The Poems of
Duncan Campbell
Scott





FRAGMENT OF AN ODE TO CANADA


THIS is the land!
It lies outstretched a vision of delight,
Bent like a shield between the silver seas
It flashes back the hauteur of the sun;
Yet teems with humblest beauties, still a part

5

Of its Titanic and ebullient heart.

Land of the glacial, lonely mountain ranges,
Where nothing haps save vast Æonian changes,
The slow moraine, the avalanche’s wings,
Summer and Sun,—the elemental things,

10

Pulses of Awe,—Winter and Night and the lightnings.
Land of the pines that rear their dusky spars
A ready midnight for the earliest stars.
The land of rivers, rivulets, and rills,
Straining incessant everyway to the sea,

15

With their white thunder harnessed in the mills,
Turning one wealth to another wealth perpetually;
Spinning the lightning with dynamic spindles,
Till some far city dowered with fire enkindles.
The land of fruit, fine-flavoured with the frost,

20

Land of the cattle, the deep-chested host,
The happy-souled, that contemplate the hours,
Their dew-laps buried in the grass and flowers.
And, O! the myriad-miracle of the grain
Cresting the hill, brimming the level plain,

25

The miracle of the flower and milk and kernel,
Nurtured by sun-fire and frost-fire supernal,
Until the farmer turns it in his hand,
The million-millioned miracle of the land. [Page 11]

And yet with all these pastoral and heroic graces,

30

Our simplest flowers wear the loveliest faces;
The sparrows are our most enraptured singers,
And round their songs the fondest memory lingers;
Our forests tower and tremble, star-enchanted,
Their roots are by the timid spirits haunted

35

Of hermit thrushes,—trancèd is the air,
Ever in doubt when they shall sing or where;
The mountains may with ice and avalanche wrestle,
Far down their rugged steeps dimple and nestle
The still, translucent, turquoise-hearted tarns.

40

•          •         •         •


And Thou, O Power, that ’stablishest the Nation,
Give wisdom in the midst of our elation;
Who are so free that we forget we are—
That freedom brings the deepest obligation:
Grant us this presage for a guiding star,

45

To lead the van of Peace, not with a craven spirit,
But with the consciousness that we inherit
What built the Empire out of blood and fire,
And can smite, too, in passion and with ire.
Purge us of Pride, who are so quick in vaunting

50

Thy gift, this land, that is in nothing wanting;
Give Mind to match the glory of the gift,
Give great Ideals to bridge the sordid rift
Between our heritage and our use of it.
Then in some day of terror for the world,

55

When all the flags of the Furies are unfurled,
When Truth and Justice, wildered and unknit,
Shall turn for help to this young, radiant land,
We shall be quick to see and understand: [Page 12]
What shall we answer in that stricken hour?

60

Shall the deep thought be pregnant then with power?
Shall the few words spring swift and grave and clear?
Use well the present moment.  They shall hear.

August, 1911.

 




LAST YEAR


BY the grey shores of Rideau,
      The bells are calling clear,
Over the dying ripple,
      The swallows dip and veer,
The spring is coming slow,

5

      As it came last year!

But a slow spring is sure
      With freshets of cold rain;
As it came last year
      And ever may come again,

10

With flowers frail and pure,
      Where the pure snow had lain.

The bells have ceased their calling
      But silence calls as clear,
Within the earth’s shadow

15

      A few stars appear,
The chill night is falling
      As it fell last year. [Page 13]

 




AT THE CEDARS


YOU had two girls—Baptiste—
One is Virginie—
Hold hard—Baptiste!
Listen to me.

The whole drive was jammed

5

In that bend at the Cedars,
The rapids were dammed
With the logs tight rammed
And crammed; you might know
The Devil had clinched them below.

10


We worked three days—not a budge,
‘She’s tight as a wedge, on the ledge,’
Says our foreman;
‘Mon Dieu! boys, look here,
We must get this thing clear.’

15

He cursed at the men
And we went for it then;
With our cant-dogs arow,
We just have he-yo-ho;
When she gave a big shove

20

From above.

The gang yelled and tore
For the shore,
The logs gave a grind
Like a wolf’s jaws behind,

25

And as quick as a flash,
With a shove and a crash,
They were down in a mash, [Page 14]
But I and ten more,
All but Isaàc Dufour,

30

Were ashore.

He leaped on a log in the front of the rush,
And shot out from the bind
While the jam roared behind;
As he floated along

35

He balanced his pole
And tossed us a song.
But just as we cheered,
Up darted a log from the bottom,
Leaped thirty feet square and fair,

40

And came down on his own.

He went up like a block
With the shock,
And when he was there
In the air,

45

Kissed his hand
To the land;
When he dropped
My heart stopped,
For the first logs had caught him

50

And crushed him;
When he rose in his place
There was blood on his face. [Page 15]

There were some girls, Baptiste,
Picking berries on the hillside,

55

Where the river curls, Baptiste,
You know—on the still side
One was down by the water,
She saw Isaàc
Fall back.

60


She did not scream, Baptiste,
She launched her canoe;
It did seem, Baptiste,
That she wanted to die too,
For before you could think

65

The birch cracked like a shell
In that rush of hell,
And I saw them both sink—

Baptiste!—
He had two girls,

70

One is Virginie,
What God calls the other
Is not known to me. [Page 16]

 


ROSES ON THE PORTAGE


ROSES—roses—roses—
     How you glow and burn and beam,
Like lamps in the cave of the spruces,
     That tremble and dance and gleam.

You bloom unheeded, unbidden,

5

     The Indians pass you by,
Wild Toma and ancient Pierrish,
     Arcange with the gypsy eye.

You might catch in their dusky raiment,
     Strange with the odour of smoke,

10

Your dew might be shaken and scattered,
     Your petals all riven and broke.

Even then in the spangled morning,
     They would not heed a whit,
Your virginal tremulous beauty,

15

     And the innocence of it.

O, if Arcange on the portage,
     With her swarthy cheek and breast,
Could know but a tithe of your beauty,
     As she pauses there to rest,

20


Would she pluck you, and hold you, and kiss you,
     Would she laugh as your loveliness clears,
Would she stand there awe-stricken, silent,
     Would her brown eyes fill with tears? [Page 17]

 


TWIN-FLOWERS ON THE PORTAGE


THEY cover in a twinkling host
     The mosses, green and yellow,
One flower would be Titania’s boast
     Without her lovely fellow.

But linked in fragile twos they droop

5

     Where’er the vines may wander,
Above the hidden loop in loop
     They seem to drowse and ponder.

If form might wake in sound, these cones
     Would haunt the dewy hollow

10

With tabors taut and golden drones,
     With dancing flutes to follow.

If odours risen from orient wells
     Might don a sea apparel,
The blooms would beam as rosy shells

15

     Beneath a flood of beryl.

If thought might form in flowers, these lights
     Would be the gentle seeming
That virgin fairies bend on knights
     When they are half adreaming.

20


Where on the portage now they droop
     In tint and odour mellow
One flower would grace Titania’s troop
     Without her lovely fellow. [Page 18]

 


RAPIDS AT NIGHT


HERE at the roots of the mountains,
Between the sombre legions of cedars and tamaracks,
The rapids charge the ravine:
A little light, cast by foam under starlight,
Wavers about the shimmering stems of the birches:

5

Here rise up the clangorous sounds of battle,
Immense and mournful.
Far above curves the great dome of darkness
Drawn with the limitless lines of the stars and the planets.
Deep at the core of the tumult,

10

Deeper than all the voices that cry at the surface,
Dwells one fathomless sound,
Under the hiss and cry, the stroke and the plangent clamour.

O human heart that sleeps,
Wild with rushing dreams and deep with sadness!

15


The abysmal roar drops into almost silence,
While over its sleep play in various cadence
Innumerous voices crashing in laughter;
Then rising calm, overwhelming,
Slow in power,

20

Rising supreme in utterance,
It sways, and reconquers and floods all the spaces of silence,
One voice, deep with the sadness, [Page 19]
That dwells at the core of all things.
There by a nest in the glimmering birches,

25

Speaks a thrush as if startled from slumber,
Dreaming of Southern ricefields,
The moted glow of the amber sunlight,
Where the long ripple roves among the reeds.

Above curves the great dome of darkness,

30

Scored with the limitless lines of the stars and the planets;
Like the strong palm of God,
Veined with the ancient laws,
Holding a human heart that sleeps,
Wild with rushing dreams and deep with the sadness,

35

That dwells at the core of all things. [Page 20]

 


AFTERWARDS


I WATCHED thee with devotion
     Through all those silent years,
Thy least regarded motion,
     Thy laughter and thy tears.

But thou, when fate would sever

5

     The visionary tie,
Unconscious and for ever
     Left me without a sigh.

Yet though I needs must borrow
     My comfort from distress,

10

I would not give my sorrow
     For thy unconsciousness. [Page 20]

 


AT THE END


I HAVE learned well,—a child I’ve grown by knowing;
     I have taught well,—I know not why;
A few have garnered well my careless sowing,
     And one sound kernel fills the granary.

I have fought well,—have turned and dared disaster;

5

     I’ve been well vanquished—and I know not why;
Well have I suffered and called no man master,
     But have wrought sleepless for the mastery.

I have loved well,—and that’s the best of living;
     I’ve been well loved,—I know not why;

10

But O, the rapture of the giving!
     And of the taking—the wild ecstasy!

I boast too well, you say, a noisy scandal
     Vexing the hearing of the scornful gods:
But life,—yes, life was worth the candle,

15

     So what’s the odds;

He that cowers now is not the less a varlet,
     I know I’ll brave them well,—I know not why;
Toss me my proudest cloak of green and scarlet,
     Fellows,—old friends,—good bye. [Page 21]

20

 


INDIAN PLACE-NAMES


THE race has waned and left but tales of ghosts,
That hover in the world like fading smoke
About the lodges: gone are the dusky folk
That once were cunning with the thong and snare
And mighty with the paddle and the bow;

5

They lured the silver salmon from his lair,
They drove the buffalo in trampling hosts,
And gambled in the tepees until dawn,
But now their vaunted prowess all is gone,
Gone like a moose-track in the April snow.

10

But all the land is murmurous with the call
Of their wild names that haunt the lovely glens
Where lonely water falls, or where the street
Sounds all day with the tramp of myriad feet;
Toronto triumphs; Winnipeg flows free,

15

And clangs the iron height where gaunt Quebec
Lies like a lion in a lily bed,
And Restigouche takes the whelmed sound of sea,
Meductic falls, and flutes the Mirimichi;
Kiskisink where the shy mallard breeds

20

Breaks into pearls beneath his whirling wings,
And Manitowapah sings;
They flow like water, or like wind they flow,
Waymoucheeching, loon-haunted Manowan,
Far Mistassini by her frozen wells,

25

Gold-hued Wayagamac brimming her wooded dells:
Lone Kamouraska, Metapedia,
And Metlakahtla ring a round of bells. [Page 22]

 


NIGHT HYMNS ON LAKE NIPIGON


HERE in the midnight, where the dark mainland and island
Shadows mingle in shadow deeper, profounder,
Sing we the hymns of the churches, while the dead water
              Whispers before us.

Thunder is travelling slow on the path of the lightning;

5

One after one the stars and the beaming planets
Look serene in the lake from the edge of the storm-cloud,
              Then have they vanished.

While our canoe, that floats dumb in the bursting thunder,
Gathers her voice in the quiet and thrills and whispers,

10

Presses her prow in the star-gleam, and all her ripple
              Lapses in blackness.

Sing we the sacred ancient hymns of the churches,
Chanted first in old-world nooks of the desert,
While in the wild, pellucid Nipigon reaches

15

              Hunted the savage.

Now have the ages met in the Northern midnight,
And on the lonely, loon-haunted Nipigon reaches
Rises the hymn of triumph and courage and comfort,
              Adeste Fideles. [Page 23]

20


Tones that were fashioned when the faith brooded in darkness,
Joined with sonorous vowels in the noble Latin,
Now are married with the long-drawn Ojibwa,
              Uncouth and mournful.

Soft with the silver drip of the regular paddles

25

Falling rhythm, timed with the liquid, plangent
Sounds from the blades were the whirlpools break and are           carried
              Down into darkness;

Each long cadence, flying like a dove from her shelter
Deep in the shadow, wheels for a throbbing moment,

30

Poises in utterance, returning in circles of silver
              To nest in the silence.

All wild nature stirs with the infinite, tender
Plaint of a bygone age whose soul is eternal,
Bound in the lonely phrases that thrill and falter

35

              Back into quiet.

Back they falter as the deep storm overtakes them,
Whelms them in splendid hollows of booming thunder,
Wraps them in rain, that, sweeping, breaks and onrushes,
              Ringing like cymbals. [Page 24]

40

 


ON THE WAY TO THE MISSION


THEY dogged him all one afternoon,
Through the bright snow,
Two whitemen servants of greed;
He knew that they were there,
But he turned not his head;

5

He was an Indian trapper;
He planted his snow-shoes firmly,
He dragged the long toboggan
Without rest.

The three figures drifted

10

Like shadows in the mind of a seer;
The snow-shoes were whisperers
On the threshold of awe;
The toboggan made the sound of wings,
A wood-pigeon sloping to her nest.

15


The Indian’s face was calm.
He strode with the sorrow of fore-knowledge,
But his eyes were jewels of content
Set in circles of peace.

They would have shot him;

20

But momently in the deep forest,
They saw something flit by his side:
Their hearts stopped with fear.
Then the moon rose.
They would have left him to the spirit, [Page 25]

25

But they saw the long toboggan
Rounded well with furs,
With many a silver fox-skin,
With the pelts of mink and of otter.
They were the servants of greed;

30

When the moon grew brighter
And the spruces were dark with sleep,
They shot him.
When he fell on a shield of moonlight
One of his arms clung to his burden;

35

The snow had not melted:
The spirit passed away.

Then the servants of greed
Tore off the cover to count their gains;
They shuddered away into the shadows,

40

Hearing each the loud heart of the other.
Silence was born.

There in the tender moonlight,
     As sweet as they were in life,
Glimmered the ivory features,

45

     Of the Indian’s wife.

In the manner of Montagnais women
     Her hair was rolled with braid;
Under her waxen fingers
     A crucifix was laid.

50


He was drawing her down to the Mission,
     To bury her there in spring,
When the bloodroot comes and the windflower
     To silver everything. [Page 26]

But as a gift of plunder

55

     Side by side were they laid,
The moon went on to her setting
     And covered them with shade. [Page 27]

 


IN THE SELKIRKS


THE old gray shade of the Mountain
          Stands in the open sky,
Counting, as if at his leisure,
          The days of Eternity.

The Stream comes down from its Sources,

5

          Afar in the glacial height,
Rushing along through the valley
          In loops of silver light.

“What is my duty, O Mountain,
          Is it to stand like thee?

10

Is it, O flashing torrent,
          Like thee—to be free?”

The Man utters the questions,
          He breathes—he is gone!
The Mountain stands in the heavens,

15

          The Stream rushes on. [Page 27]

 


THE FORSAKEN


I


ONCE in the winter
Out on a lake
In the heart of the north-land,
Far from the Fort
And far from the hunters,

5

A Chippewa woman
With her sick baby,
Crouched in the last hours
Of a great storm.
Frozen and hungry,

10

She fished through the ice
With a line of the twisted
Bark of the cedar,
And a rabbit-bone hook
Polished and barbed;

15

Fished with the bare hook
All through the wild day,
Fished and caught nothing;
While the young chieftain
Tugged at her breasts,

20

Or slept in the lacings
Of the warm tikanagan.
All the lake-surface
Streamed with the hissing
Of millions of iceflakes

25

Hurled by the wind;
Behind her the round [Page 28]
Of a lonely island
Roared like a fire
With the voice of the storm

30

In the deeps of the cedars.
Valiant, unshaken,
She took of her own flesh,
Baited the fish-hook,
Drew in a gray-trout,

35

Drew in his fellows,
Heaped them beside her,
Dead in the snow.
Valiant, unshaken,
She faced the long distance,

40

Wolf-haunted and lonely,
Sure of her goal
And the life of her dear one:
Tramped for two days,
On the third in the morning,

45

Saw the strong bulk
Of the Fort by the river,
Saw the wood-smoke
Hang soft in the spruces,
Heard the keen yelp

50

Of the ravenous huskies
Fighting for whitefish:
Then she had rest. [Page 29]


II


Years and years after,
When she was old and withered,

55

When her son was an old man
And his children filled with vigour,
They came in their northern tour on the verge of winter,
To an island in a lonely lake.
There one night they camped, and on the morrow

60

Gathered their kettles and birch-bark
Their rabbit-skin robes and their mink-traps,
Launched their canoes and slunk away through the islands,
Left her alone forever,
Without a word of farewell,

65

Because she was old and useless,
Like a paddle broken and warped,
Or a pole that was splintered.
Then, without a sigh,
Valiant, unshaken,

70

She smoothed her dark locks under her kerchief,
Composed her shawl in state,
Then folded her hands ridged with sinews and corded with veins,
Folded them across her breasts spent with the nourishing of           children,
Gazed at the sky past the tops of the cedars,

75

Saw two spangled nights arise out of the twilight,
Saw two days go by filled with the tranquil sunshine,
Saw, without pain, or dread, or even a moment of longing: [Page           30]
Then on the third great night there came thronging and thronging
Millions of snowflakes out of a windless cloud;

80

They covered her close with a beautiful crystal shroud,
Covered her deep and silent.
But in the frost of the dawn,
Up from the life below,
Rose a column of breath

85

Through a tiny cleft in the snow,
Fragile, delicately drawn,
Wavering with its own weakness,
In the wilderness a sign of the spirit,
Persisting still in the sight of the sun

90

Till day was done.
Then all light was gathered up by the hand of God and his in His           breast,
Then there was born a silence deeper than silence,
Then she had rest. [Page 31]

 


THE EAGLE SPEAKS


     The Indians of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains capture eagles by concealing themselves, and seizing the birds as they attempt to take the bait set for them; in the combat that follows, the bird has sometimes been the victor.


NAY, not so near the edge, for far below
The cloud are rocks, and there an icy stream
Would whirl your little bodies like dead leaves
And dash them.  Stretch your wings; your wings
Are power and the air’s your element;

5

When they are mighty, close under the sun
We’ll fly, and you shall look up at him
And he shall feel impotent in the heavens
When he hears us scream and taunt him.
When they are strong you may fall,—sudden

10

As the snow rushes from the pass and roars,
And all the stems of trees in the green valley
Snap in the windage of his roar,—and fall—
Fall so unerring and swift and check so fierce
And yet not even disturb a feather on the ledge;

15

As you saw me now hurled like a bolt
From the slant sun and fall like a furled shadow.
To mount, that is our destiny, to mount—and even
In rest to feel that power that calls us up
To hang above the earth and all the tribes

20

Of men that creep and scurry upon it,
With their tamed horses and their buffaloes;
They fight together on horseback—I have seen—
Naked and puny and wearing on their heads
Our tail feathers to frighten one another:

25

They lie in wait to rob us of our plumes, [Page 32]
Hiding in snares about the hollow hills,
Baiting their traps with the dainty antelope,
And if they find a feather on the plain
Dropped in high flight as a cold cloud, careless

30

Might drop a snow-flake,—boasting about their campfires
How they had braved the dread war eagle
And torn his plumage.  Stretch thy wings,
For they are safety from such pillage, and swiftness
In pursuit, and fiery freedom, dealing

35

Cold death, as I have dealt it, to the spoiler.

In the slant light toward twilight I had caught
In my slow circlings the scent of plunder,
And stooped down to where a kid had fallen
On the yellow bank of a dry water-course.

40

I had dropped slow with my wings up-spread
Over it and let down my talons to clutch,—
When I was seized,—astonished I rushed up with power
And dragged this thing out from his snare,
Scattering his little shelter under the kid;

45

He held me strong and struck at me with a knife,
Whirling him about as I strove in the air,
I tore his scalp and blinded him with his blood,
And as he dragged me down, half-fallen,
I beat him with the shoulders of my wings

50

On his hard brain-pan, a fury of blows
As wild as hail on a stone mountain top.
Dizzied so, his knife fell and I tore his scalp
Down over his eyes, and with his puny hands
He strove to catch my whirling wings and failed,— [Page 33]

55

Then smote him to the earth and I was free;
Naked and huddled on his side he lay,
Daubed all with yellow paint streaked with vermilion
Vowéd to this adventure, but all lifeless
As the kid and the dead water course.

60


I swirled low over earth like flame flattened
By wind, then with a long loop of swiftness
Rose sheer up into the bubble of the air
And left him, carrion with his carrion,
For the dull coyotes to scent and overhaul

65

With snarls and bickerings lower than the dogs.
Rose to the unattempted heights, spurning
The uséd channels of the air, to the thin reach
Where vapours are unborn and caught the last
Glint of falling light beyond the peak

70

Of the last mountain, and hung alone serene
Till night, welling up into the void, darkened me,—
Poised with the first cold stars.

                                     Wings,—thy wings,
Strengthen thy wings, for they are more than swiftness,
More than freedom, proud withdrawal are they

75

Into the region where, after vivid action,
Thought rises the immortal ghost of action,
Above the orb where space assembles silence,
Where all the ache and effort of this petty life
Are quieted with silence. [Page 34]

80

 


THE PIPER OF ARLL


THERE  was in Arll a little cove
Where the salt wind came cool and free:
A foamy beach that one would love,
If he were longing for the sea.

A brook hung sparkling on the hill,

5

The hill swept far to ring the bay;
The bay was faithful, wild or still,
To the heart of the ocean far away.

There were three pines above the comb
That, when the sun flared and went down,

10

Grew like three warriors reaving home
The plunder of a burning town.

A piper lived within the grove,
Tending the pasture of his sheep;
His heart was swayed with faithful love,

15

From the springs of God’s ocean clear and deep.

And there a ship one evening stood,
Where ship had never stood before;
A pennon bickered red as blood,
An angel glimmered at the prore.

20


About the coming on of dew,
The sails burned rosy, and the spars
Were gold, and all the tackle grew
Alive with ruby-hearted stars. [Page 35]

The piper heard an outland tongue,

25

With music in the cadenced fall;
And when the fairy lights were hung,
The sailors gathered one and all,

And leaning on the gunwales dark,
Crusted with shells and dashed with foam,

30

With all the dreaming hills to hark,
They sang their longing songs of home.

When the sweet airs had fled away,
The piper, with a gentle breath,
Moulded a tranquil melody

35

Of lonely love and longed-for death.

When the fair sound began to lull,
From out the fireflies and the dew,
A silence held the shadowy hull,
Until the eerie tune was through.

40


Then from the dark and dreamy deck
An alien song began to thrill;
It mingled with the drumming beck,
And stirred the braird upon the hill.

Beneath the stars each sent to each

45

A message tender, till at last
The piper slept upon the beach,
The sailors slumbered round the mast.

Still as a dream till nearly dawn,
The ship was bosomed on the tide;

50

The streamlet, murmuring on and on,
Bore the sweet water to her side. [Page 36]

Then shaking out her lawny sails,
Forth on the misty sea she crept;
She left the dawning of the dales,

55

Yet in his cloak the piper slept.

And when he woke he saw the ship,
Limned black against the crimson sun;
Then from the disc he saw her slip,
A wraith of shadow—she was gone.

60


He threw his mantle on the beach,
He went apart like one distraught,
His lips were moved—his desperate speech
Stormed his inviolable thought.

He broke his human-throated reed,

65

And threw it in the idle rill;
But when his passion had its mead,
He found it in the eddy still.

He mended well the patient flue,
Again he tried its varied stops;

70

The closures answered right and true,
And starting out in piercing drops,

A melody began to drip
That mingled with a ghostly thrill
The vision-spirit of the ship,

75

The secret of his broken will.

Beneath the pines he piped and swayed,
Master of passion and of power;
He was his soul and what he played,
Immortal for a happy hour. [Page 37]

80


He, singing into nature’s heart,
Guiding his will by the world’s will,
With deep, unconscious, childlike art
Had sung his soul out and was still.

And then at evening came the bark

85

That stirred his dreaming heart’s desire;
It burned slow lights along the dark
That died in glooms of crimson fire.

The sailors launched a sombre boat,
And bent with music at the oars;

90

The rhythm throbbing every throat,
And lapsing round the liquid shores,

Was that true tune the piper sent,
Unto the wave-worn mariners,
When with the beck and ripple blent

95

He heard that outland song of theirs.

Silent they rowed him, dip and drip,
The oars beat out an exequy,
They laid him down within the ship,
They loosed a rocket to the sky.

100


It broke in many a crimsoned sphere
That grew to gold and floated far,
And left the sudden shore-line clear,
With one slow-changing, drifting star.

Then out they shook the magic sails,

105

That charmed the wind in other seas,
From where the west line pearls and pales,
They waited for a ruffling breeze. [Page 38]

But in the world there was no stir,
The cordage slacked with never a creak,

110

They heard the flame begin to purr
Within the lantern at the peak.

They could not cry, they could not move,
They felt the lure from the charmed sea;
They could not think of home or love

115

Or any pleasant land to be.

They felt the vessel dip and trim,
And settle down from list to list;
They saw the sea-plain heave and swim
As gently as a rising mist.

120


And down so slowly, down and down,
Rivet by rivet, plank by plank;
A little flood of ocean flown
Across the deck, she sank and sank.

From knee to breast the water wore,

125

It crept and crept; ere they were ware
Gone was the angel at the prore,
They felt the water float their hair.

They saw the salt plain spark and shine,
They threw their faces to the sky;

130

Beneath a deepening film of brine
They saw the star-flash blur and die.

She sank and sank by yard and mast,
Sank down the shimmering gradual dark;
A little drooping pennon last

135

Showed like the black fin of a shark. [Page 39]

And down she sank till, keeled in sand,
She rested safely balanced true,
With all her upward gazing band,
The piper and the dreaming crew.

140


And there, unmarked of any chart,
In unrecorded deeps they lie,
Empearled within the purple heart
Of the great sea for aye and aye.

Their eyes are ruby in the green

145

Long shaft of sun that spreads and rays,
And upward with a wizard sheen
A fan of sea-light leaps and plays.

Tendrils of or and azure creep,
And globe of amber light are rolled,

150

And in the gloaming of the deep
Their eyes are starry pits of gold.

And sometimes in the liquid night
The hull is changed, a solid gem,
That glows with a soft stony light,

155

The lost prince of a diadem.

And at the keel a vine is quick,
That spreads its bines and works and weaves
O’er all the timbers veining thick
A plenitude of silver leaves. [Page 40]

160

 


SPRING ON MATTAGAMI


FAR in the east the rain-clouds sweep and harry,
     Down the long haggard hills, formless and low,
Far in the west the shell-tints meet and marry,
     Piled gray and tender blue and roseate snow;
East—like a fiend, the bolt-breasted, streaming

5

     Storm strikes the world with lightning and with hail;
West—like the thought of a seraph that is dreaming,
     Venus leads the young moon down the vale.

Through the lake furrow between the gloom and bright’ning
     Firm runs our long canoe with a whistling rush,

10

While Potàn the wise and the cunning Silver Lightning
     Break with their slender blades the long clear hush;
Soon shall I pitch my tent amid the birches,
     Wise Potàn shall gather boughs of balsam fir,
While for bark and dry wood Silver Lightning searches;

15

     Soon the smoke shall hang and lapse in the moist air.

Soon shall I sleep—if I may not remember
     One who lives far away where the storm-cloud went;
May it part and starshine burn in many a quiet ember,
     Over her towered city crowned with large content;

20

Dear God, let me sleep, here where deep peace is,
     Let me own a dreamless sleep once for all the years,
Let me know a quiet mind and what heart ease is,
     Lost to light and life and hope, to longing and to tears.
[Page 41]

Here in the solitude less her memory presses,

25

     Yet I see her lingering where the birches shine,
All the dark cedars are sleep-laden like her tresses,
     The gold-moted wood-pools pellucid as her eyen;
Memories and ghost-forms of the days departed
     People all the forest lone in the dead of night;

30

While Potàn and Silver Lightning sleep, the happy-hearted,
     Troop they from their fastnesses upon my sight.

Once when the tide came straining from the Lido,
     In a sea of flame our gondola flickered like a sword,
Venice lay abroad builded like beauty’s credo,

35

     Smouldering like a gorget on the breast of the Lord:
Did she mourn for fame foredoomed or passion shattered
     That with a sudden impulse she gathered at my side?
But when I spoke the ancient fates were flattered,
     Chill there crept between us the imperceptible tide.

40


Once I well remember in her twilight garden,
     She pulled a half-blown rose, I thought it meant for me,
But poising in the act, and with half a sigh for pardon,
     She hid it in her bosom where none may dare to see:
Had she a subtle meaning?—would to God I knew it,

45

     Where’er I am I always feel the rose leaves nestling there,
If I might know her mind and the thought which then flashed           through it,
     My soul might look to heaven not commissioned to despair.
[Page 42]

Though she denied at parting the gift that I besought her,
     Just a bit of ribbon or a strand of her hair;

50

Though she would not keep the token that I brought her.
     Proud she stood and calm and marvellously fair;
Yet I saw her spirit—truth cannot dissemble—
     Saw her pure as gold, staunch and keen and brave,
For she knows my worth and her heart was all atremble,

55

     Lest her will should weaken and make her heart a slave.

If she could be here where all the world is eager
     For dear love with the primal Eden sway,
Where the blood is fire and no pulse is thin or meager,
     All the heart of all the world beats one way!

60

There is the land of fraud and fame and fashion,
     Joy is but a gaud and withers in an hour,
Here is the land of quintessential passion,
     Where in a wild throb Spring wells up with power.

She would hear the partridge drumming in the distance,

65

     Rolling out his mimic thunder in the sultry noons;
Hear beyond the silver reach in ringing wild persistence
     Reel remote the ululating laughter of the loons;
See the shy moose fawn nestling by its mother,
     In a cool marsh pool where the sedges meet;

70

Reset by a moss-mound where the twin-flowers smother
     With a drowse of orient perfume drenched in light and heat: [Page 43]

She would see the dawn rise behind the smoky mountain,
     In a jet of colour curving up to break,
While like spray from the iridescent fountain,

75

     Opal fires weave over all the oval of the lake:
She would see like fireflies the stars alight and spangle
     All the heaven meadows thick with growing dusk,
Feel the gipsy airs that gather up and tangle
     The woodsy odours in a maze of myrrh and musk:

80


There in the forest all the birds are nesting,
     Tells the hermit thrush the song he cannot tell,
While the white-throat sparrow never resting,
     Even in the deepest night rings his crystal bell:
O, she would love me then with a wild elation,

85

     Then she must love me and leave her lonely state,
Give me love yet keep her soul’s imperial reservation,
     Large as her deep nature and fathomless as fate:

Then, if she would lie beside me in the even,
     On my deep couch heaped of balsam fir,

90

Fragrant with sleep as nothing under heaven,
     Let the past and future mingle in one blur;
While all the stars were watchful and thereunder
     Earth breathed not but took their silent light,
All life withdrew and wrapt in a wild wonder

95

     Peace fell tranquil on the odorous night: [Page 44]

She would let me steal,—not consenting or denying—
     One strong arm beneath her dusky hair,
She would let me bare, not resisting or complying,
     One sweet breast so sweet and firm and fair;

100

Then with the quick sob of passion’s shy endeavour,
     She would gather close and shudder and swoon away,
She would be mine for ever and for ever,
     Mine for all time and beyond the judgment day.

Vain is the dream, and deep with all derision—

105

     Fate is stern and hard—fair and false and vain—
But what would life be worth without the vision,
     Dark with sordid passion, pale with wringing pain?
What I dream is mine, mine beyond all cavil,
     Pure and fair and sweet, and mine for evermore,

110

And when I will my life I may unravel,
     And find my passion dream deep at the red core.

Venus sinks first lost in ruby splendour,
     Stars like wood-daffodils grow golden in the night,
Far, far above, in a space entranced and tender,

115

     Floats the growing moon pale with virgin light.
Vaster than the world or life or death my trust is
     Based in the unseen and towering far above;
Hold me, O Law, that deeper lies than Justice,
     Guide me, O Light, that stronger burns than Love. [Page 45]

120

 


THE HEIGHT OF LAND


HERE is the height of land:
The watershed on either hand
Goes down to Hudson Bay
Or Lake Superior;
The stars are up, and far away

5

The wind sounds in the wood, wearier
Than the long Ojibwa cadence
In which Potàn the Wise
Declares the ills of life
And Chees-que-ne-ne makes a mournful sound

10

Of acquiescence.  The fires burn low
With just sufficient glow
To light the flakes of ash that play
At being moths, and flutter away
To fall in the dark and die as ashes:

15

Here there is peace in the lofty air,
And Something comes by flashes
Deeper than peace;—
The spruces have retired a little space
And left a field of sky in violet shadow

20

With stars like marigolds in a water-meadow.

Now the Indian guides are dead asleep;
There is no sound unless the soul can hear
The gathering of the waters in their sources. [Page 46]

We have come up through the spreading lakes

25

From level to level,—
Pitching our tents sometimes over a revel
Of roses that nodded all night,
Dreaming within our dreams,
To wake at dawn and find that they were captured

30

With no dew on their leaves;
Sometimes mid sheaves
Of bracken and dwarf-cornel, and again
On a wide blueberry plain
Brushed with the shimmer of a bluebird’s wing;

35

A rocky islet followed
With one lone poplar and a single nest
Of white-throat-sparrows that took no rest
But sang in dreams or woke to sing,—
To the last portage and the height of land—:

40

Upon one hand
The lonely north enlaced with lakes and streams,
And the enormous targe of Hudson Bay,
Glimmering all night
In the cold arctic light;

45

On the other hand
The crowded southern land
With all the welter of the lives of men.
But here is peace, and again
That Something comes by flashes

50

Deeper than peace,—a spell
Golden and inappellable
That gives the inarticulate part
Of our strange being one moment of release
That seems more native than the touch of time, [Page 47]

55

And we must answer in chime;
Though yet no man may tell
The secret of that spell
Golden and inappellable.

Now are there sounds walking in the wood,

60

And all the spruces shiver and tremble,
And the stars move a little in their courses.
The ancient disturber of solitude
Breathes a pervasive sigh,
And the soul seems to hear

65

The gathering of the waters at their sources;
Then quiet ensues and pure starlight and dark;
The region-spirit murmurs in meditation,
The heart replies in exaltation
And echoes faintly like an inland shell

70

Ghost tremors of the spell;
Thought reawakens and is linked again
With all the welter of the lives of men.
Here on the uplands where the air is clear
We think of life as of a stormy scene,—

75

Of tempest, of revolt and desperate shock;
And here, where we can think, on the bright uplands
Where the air is clear, we deeply brood on life
Until the tempest parts, and it appears
As simple as to the shepherd seems his flock:

80

A Something to be guided by ideals—
That in themselves are simple and serene—
Of noble deed to foster noble thought,
And noble thought to image noble deed,
Till deed and thought shall interpenetrate, [Page 48]

85

Making life lovelier, till we come to doubt
Whether the perfect beauty that escapes
Is beauty of deed or thought or some high thing
Mingled of both, a greater boon than either:
Thus we have seen in the retreating tempest

90

The victor-sunlight merge with the ruined rain,
And from the rain and sunlight spring the rainbow.

The ancient disturber of solitude
Stirs his ancestral potion in the gloom,
And the dark wood

95

Is stifled with the pungent fume
Of charred earth burnt to the bone
That takes the place of air.
Then sudden I remember when and where,—
The last weird lakelet foul with weedy growths

100

And slimy viscid things the spirit loathes,
Skin of vile water over viler mud
Where the paddle stirred unutterable stenches,
And the canoes seemed heavy with fear,
Not to be urged toward the fatal shore

105

Where a bush fire, smouldering, with sudden roar
Leaped on a cedar and smothered it with light
And terror.  It had left the portage-height
A tangle of slanted spruces burned to the roots,
Covered still with patches of bright fire

110

Smoking with incense of the fragrant resin
That even then began to thin and lessen
Into the gloom and glimmer of ruin. [Page 49]

’Tis overpast.  How strange the stars have grown;
The presage of extinction glows on their crests

115

And they are beautied with impermanence;
They shall be after the race of men
And mourn for them who snared their fiery pinions,
Entangled in the meshes of bright words.

A lemming stirs the fern and in the mosses

120

Eft-minded things feel the air change, and dawn
Tolls out from the dark belfries of the spruces.
How often in the autumn of the world
Shall the crystal shrine of dawning be rebuilt
With deeper meaning!  Shall the poet then,

125

Wrapped in his mantle on the height of land,
Brood on the welter of the lives of men
And dream of his ideal hope and promise
In the blush sunrise?  Shall he base his flight
Upon a more compelling law than Love

130

As Life’s atonement; shall the vision
Of noble deed and noble thought immingled
Seem as uncouth to him as the pictograph
Scratched on the cave side by the cave-dweller
To us of the Christ-time?  Shall he stand

135

With deeper joy, with more complex emotion,
In closer commune with divinity,
With the deep fathomed, with the firmament charted,
With life as simple as a sheep-boy’s song,
What lies beyond a romaunt that was read

140

Once on a morn of storm and laid aside
Memorious with strange immortal memories?
Or shall he see the sunrise as I see it [Page 50]
In shoals of misty fire the deluge-light
Dashes upon and whelms with purer radiance,

145

And feel the lulled earth, older in pulse and motion,
Turn the rich lands and the inundant oceans
To the flushed color, and hear as now I hear
The thrill of life beat up the planet’s margin
And break in the clear susurrus of deep joy

150

That echoes and reëchoes in my being?
O Life is intuition the measure of knowledge
And do I stand with heart entranced and burning
At the zenith of our wisdom when I feel
The long light flow, the long wind pause, the deep

155

Influx of spirit, of which no man may tell
The Secret, golden and inappellable?

 


I DO NOT ASK


I DO not ask, now that the day is over
For certitudes the daylight did not bring,
I do no long for colour through the shadow,
Nor in winter for the spring;
Only for rest,

5

And what is best
Maybe of all Life’s store,
The power to reassemble
Memories of passion and endeavour
That made Life throb and tremble

10

But are no more. [Page 51]

 


THE NOVEMBER PANSY


THIS is not June,—by Autumn’s stratagem
     Thou hast been ambushed in the chilly air;
     Upon thy fragile crest virginal fair
The rime has clustered in a diadem;
     The early frost

5

Has nipped thy roots and tried thy tender stem,
     Seared thy gold petals, all thy charm is lost.

Thyself the only sunshine: in obeying
     The law that bids thee blossom in the world
     Thy little flag of courage is unfurled;

10

Inherent pansy-memories are saying
     That there is sun,
That there is dew and colour and warmth repaying
     The rain, and starlight when the light is done.

These are the gaunt forms of the hollyhocks

15

     That shower the seeds from out their withered purses;
     Here were the pinks; there the nasturtium nurses
The last of colour in her gaudy smocks;
     The ruins yonder
Show but a vestige of the flaming phlox;

20

     The poppies on their faded glory ponder.

Here visited the vagrant humming-bird,
     The nebulous darting green, the ruby-throated;
     The warm fans of the butterfly here floated;
Those two nests reared the robins, and the third

25

     Was left forlorn
Muffled in lilacs, whence the perfume stirred
     The tremulous eyelids of the dewy morn. [Page 52]

Thy sisters of the early summer-time
     Were masquers in this carnival of pleasure;

30

     Each in her turn unrolled her golden treasure,
And thou has but the ashes of the prime;
     ’Tis life’s own malice
That brings the peasant of a race sublime
     To feed her flock around her ruined palace.

35


Yet for withstanding thus the autumn’s dart
     Some deeper pansy-insight will atone;
     It comes to souls neglected and alone,
Something that prodigals in pleasure’s mart
     Lose in the whirl;

40

The peasant child will have a purer heart
     Than the vain favourite of the vanished earl.

And far above this tragic world of ours
     There is a world of a diviner fashion,
     A mystic world, a world of dreams and passion

45

That each aspiring thing creates and dowers
     With its own light;
Where even the frail spirits of trees and flowers
     Pause, and reach out, and pass from height to height.

Here will we claim for thee another fief,

50

     An upland where a glamour haunts the meadows,
     Snow peaks arise enrobed in rosy shadows,
Fairer the under slopes with vine and sheaf
     And shimmering lea;
The paradise of a simple old belief,

55

     That flourished in the Islands of the Sea. [Page 53]

A snow-cool cistern in the fairy hills
     Shall feed thy roots with moisture clear as dew;
     A ferny shield to temper the warm blue
That heaven is; a thrush that thrills

60

     To answer his mate,
And when above the ferns the shadow fills,
     Fireflies to render darkness consulate.

Here muse and brood, moulding thy seed and die
     And re-create thy form a thousand fold,

65

     Mellowing thy petals to more lucent gold,
Till they expand, tissues of amber sky;
     Till the full hour,
And the full light and the fulfilling eye
     Shall find amid the ferns the perfect flower.

 


IN WINTER


THE snow with never a flickering
     Burns in a dead white,
Above like flame a-bickering
     There plays a flutter light.

What is there flashing, blowing,

5

     Above the frosted glow?
The unseen wind is throwing
     The Snow-birds in the Snow. [Page 54]

 


THE HALF-BREED GIRL


SHE is free of the trap and the paddle,
     The portage and the trail,
But something behind her savage life
     Shines like a fragile veil.

Her dreams are undiscovered,

5

     Shadows trouble her breast,
When the time for resting cometh
     Then least is she at rest.

Oft in the morns of winter,
     When she visits the rabbit snares,

10

An appearance floats in the crystal air
     Beyond the balsam firs.

Oft in the summer mornings
     When she strips the nets of fish,
The smell of the dripping net-twine

15

     Gives to her heart a wish.

But she cannot learn the meaning
     Of the shadows in her soul,
The lights that break and gather,
     The clouds that part and roll,

20


The reek of rock-built cities,
     Where her fathers dwelt of yore,
The gleam of lock and shealing,
     The mist on the moor, [Page 55]

Frail traces of kindred kindness,

25

     Of feud by hill and strand,
The heritage of an age-long life
     In a legendary land.

She wakes in the stifling wigwam,
     Where the air is heavy and wild,

30

She fears for something or nothing
     With the heart of a frightened child.

She sees the stars turn slowly
     Past the tangle of the poles,
Through the smoke of the dying embers,

35

     Like the eyes of dead souls.

Her heart is shaken with longing
     For the strange, still years,
For what she knows and knows not,
     For the wells of ancient tears.

40


A voice calls from the rapids,
     Deep, careless and free,
A voice that is larger than her life
     Or than her death shall be.

She covers her face with her blanket,

45

     Her fierce soul hates her breath,
As it cries with a sudden passion
     For life or death. [Page 56]

 


NIGHT BURIAL IN THE FOREST


LAY him down where the fern is thick and fair.
Fain was he for life, here lies he low:
With the blood washed clean from his brow and his beautiful hair,
Lay him here in the dell where the orchids grow.

Let the birch-bark torches roar in the gloom,

5

And the trees crowd up in a quiet startled ring
So lone is the land that in this lonely room
Never before has breathed a human thing.

Cover him well in his canvas shroud, and the moss
Part and heap again on his quiet breast,

10

What recks he now of gain, or love, or loss
Who for love gained rest?

While she who caused it all hides her insolent eyes
Or braids her hair with the ribbons of lust and lies,
And he who did the deed fares out like a hunted beast

15

To lurk where the musk-ox tramples the barren ground
Where the stroke of his coward heart is the only sound.

Haunting the tamarack shade,
Hear them up-thronging
Memories foredoomed

20

Of strife and of longing:
Haggard or bright
By the tamaracs and birches, [Page 57]
Where the red torch light
Trembles and searches,

25

The wilderness teems
With inscrutable eyes
Of ghosts that are dreams
Commingled with memories.

Leave him here in his secret ferny tomb,

30

Withdraw the little light from the ocean of gloom,
He who feared nought will fear aught never,
Left alone in the forest forever and ever.

Then, as we fare on our way to the shore
Sudden the torches cease to roar:

35

For cleaving the darkness remote and still
Comes a wind with a rushing, harp-like thrill,
The sound of wings hurled and furled and unfurled,
The wings of the Angel who gathers the souls from the wastes of           the world. [Page 58]

 


POWASSAN’S DRUM


THROB—throb—throb—throb;—
Is this throbbing a sound
Or an ache in the air?
Pervasive as light,
Measured and inevitable,

5

It seems to float from no distance,
But to live in the listening world—
Throb—throb—throb—throb—throbbing
The sound of Powassan’s Drum.

He crouches in his dwarf wigwam

10

Wizened with fasting,
Fierce with thirst,
Making great medicine
In memory of hated things dead
Or in menace of hated things to come,

15

And the universe listens
To the throb—throb—throb—throb—
Throbbing of Powassan’s Drum.

The world seems lost and shallow,
Seems sunken and filled with water,

20

With shores lightly moving
Of marish grass and slender reeds.
Through it all goes
The throbbing of Powassan’s Drum. [Page 59]

Has it gone on forever,

25

As the pulse of Being?
Will it last till the world’s end
As the pulse of Being?
He crouches under the poles
Covered with strips of birchbark

30

And branches of poplar and pine,
Piled for shade and dying
In dense perfume,
With closed eyelids
With eyes so fierce,

35

Burning under and through
The ancient worn eyelids,
He crouches and beats his drum.

The morning star formed
Like a pearl in the shell of darkness;

40

Light welled like water from the springs of morning;
The stars in the earth shadow
Caught like whitefish in a net;
The sun, the fisherman,
Pulling the net to the shore of night,

45

Flashing with the fins of the caught stars;—
All to the throbbing of Powassan’s Drum.

The live things in the world
Hear it and are silent.
They hide silent and charmed

50

As if guarding a secret;
Charmed and silent hiding a rich secret,
Throbbing all to the
Throb—throb—throbbing of Powassan’s Drum. [Page 60]

Stealthy as death the water

55

Wanders in the long grass,
And spangs of sunlight
Slide on the slender reeds
Like beads of bright oil.
The sky is a bubble blown so tense

60

The blue has gone gray
Stretched to the throb—throb—throb—throb—
Throbbing of Powassan’s Drum.

Is it a memory of hated things dead
That he beats—famished—

65

Or a menace of hated things to come
That he beats—parched with anger
And famished with hatred—?

The sun waited all day.
There was no answer.

70

He hauled his net
And the glint of the star-fins
Flashed in the water of twilight;
There was no answer.
But in the northeast

75

A storm cloud reaches like a hand
Out of the half darkness.
The spectral fingers of cloud
Grope in the heavens,
And at moments, sharp as pain,

80

A bracelet of bright fire
Plays on the wrist of the cloud.
Thunder from the hollow of the hand
Comes almost soundless, like an air pressure, [Page 61]
And the cloud rears up

85

To the throbbing of Powassan’s Drum.
An infusion of bitter darkness
Stains the sweet water of twilight.

Then from the reeds stealing,
A shadow noiseless,

90

A canoe moves noiseless as sleep,
Noiseless as the trance of deep sleep
And an Indian still as a statue,
Molded out of deep sleep,
Headless, still as a headless statue

95

Molded out of deep sleep,
Sits modeled in full power,
Haughty in manful power,
Headless and impotent in power.
The canoe stealthy as death

100

Drifts to the throbbing of Powassan’s Drum.
The Indian fixed like bronze
Trails his severed head
Through the dead water
Holding it by the hair,

105

By the plaits of hair,
Wound with sweet grass and tags of silver.
The face looks through the water
Up to its throne on the shoulders of power,
Unquenched eyes burning in the water,

110

Piercing beyond the shoulders of power
Up to the fingers of the storm cloud. [Page 62]

Is this the meaning of the magic—
The translation into sight
Of the viewless hate?

115

Is this what the world waited for
As it listened to the throb—throb—throb—throb—
Throbbing of Powassan’s Drum?

The sun could not answer.
The tense sky burst and went dark

120

And could not answer.
But the storm answers.
The murdered shadow sinks in the water.
Uprises the storm
And crushes the dark world;

125

At the core of the rushing fury
Bursting hail, tangled lightning
Wind in a wild vortex
Lives the triumphant throb—throb—throb—throb—
Throbbing of Powassan’s Drum. [Page 63]

130

 


VARIATIONS ON A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY THEME


          IT WAS HIGH SPRING, AND ALL THE WAY
          PRIMROSED, AND HUNG WITH SHADE.

Henry Vaughan, 1622-1695.          


I


O YOUNGE and freschë was the lovely Eve
Who was our mother, and of fayre visage
When sche her house in Eden-bower must leave
With Adam whom God made in His image,
As the good bookë saith; in youth and age

5

Study it close and con the gospel well,
For it will save your seely soul from Hell.

A Poete telleth in an olde romaunt
Of our foreparents and their first distress.
They were all naked sauf for the kinde plaunt,

10

Where Eve had gathered leaves for them for to dress.
They were adrad at the broode wilderness,
Shivering bothe, although they knew ne cold,
For the high sonne was shining bright and bold.

When the wing-schuldered aungel there did stonde,

15

And shake his sword in flame of gold and red,
Adam espied that in her little honde
Eve covered something that it cherishèd.
What was it Eva from the aungel hid?
Sche without ever askin Goddis pardon

20

Had a small primrose taken from His garden. [Page 64]

And there sche guarded it all faithfully,
Like as a youngë priest sholde guard the Host,
Then looking on its beauty, sodenly
Her timid mind with payne was rudely crost,

25

Sche thought on all the blossoms sche had lost,
And the first tear of all the teares sche shed,
Fell down upon the litel yalow head.

But when our fader Adam saw her payne,
His hert was all aswownying with her grief,

30

For he of gentle Eva was full fayne
And tender at the hert beyond belief.
He went away as he had been a thief,
And where he went the Poete did not know,
But all that day Eve never saw him mo.

35

II


All in the high May-time,
The only merry play-time,
A pedlar comes clad all in yellow;
Down the lane as he passes,
The lads and the lasses

40

Crowd after the impudent fellow.

He sells ballads and snatches
Of glees and of catches,
That go with a wonderful jingle;
He teaches a dance

45

That is perfect romance,
And sets all your blood in a tingle.

He has treasures untold
Of things made in gold, [Page 65]
Of jewels and carvings and laces;

50

But the moment you try
A thought for to buy
He makes a few frowns and grimaces.

If you mention a hope
Off he goes in a mope,

55

He is wrath if you ask an ideal;
He cries with a sneer
“You can’t buy them here!
I only engage in the real.”

“Dreams are a stuff

60

All well enough
For those who love shadows to cherish,
They’re nothing but bubbles;
I have my own troubles
To gather up things that don’t perish.”

65


“Come then, my boon lad,
All thinkers are mad,
For your strength I will give you good measure;
Come, don’t be afraid,
My pretty wild maid

70

To barter your beauty for pleasure.”

“For this is high May-time,
The only merry play-time,
When the primrose has lighted her wan-fire,
Come, stroll down the lane,

75

You’ll not bargain in vain,
At the end of the path is a bonfire!” [Page 66]


III


I dreamed a dream once in the long ago,
A tranquil angel spoke beside my bed,
Two figures stood beside him in the glow

80

Cast from his vesture and his glorious head,
One held a crystal globe all primrose-rayed,
The other held a temple hung with shade.
“O man, these symbols are the whole of life,
Here is the round of pleasure dashed with light,

85

Here is the shade of sorrow and of strife,
Temple and sphere—the sombre and the bright,
Make thou thy choice, thy mighty will is free,
In this election is thy destiny.”
I thought to choose the crystal, ’twas so fair.

90

Eyes of serene enchantment seemed to peer,
Shadows of filmy beauty floated there,
But as I closed my hand upon the sphere,
I saw a flash of something in the gold
That made my very heart turn grey and cold.

95

And so I grasped the temple hung with shade,
The angel and the figures vanished away,
I put aside the shadows undismayed,
And felt my heart turn weary and old and grey,
The very thing that I had hoped to shun

100

Sat on a throne, it was the All Powerful One.
“Make thou thy choice, thy mighty will is free,”
The mocking words were ever in my ears,
Through all my days I strove with destiny,
With teen and sorrow harvested the years.

105

I lie through æons as all mortals must,
A little heap of ashes and of dust. [Page 67]


IV


The moon glows with a primrose light
To-night!
A happy vesper sparrow sings,

110

His wings
Are moist with dew, a wraith of mist,
Grey amethyst,
Deepens the purple in the fields,
Slow yields

115

Twilight to the vast shade that listlessly
Moves landward from the sea.


V


A playwright’s room all hung about with masks,

Three candles burning and a fire half dying,
Points of high-light on shadowed foils and flasks,

120

A tragic form on a grey sofa lying:
Enter a youth too out of breath for speech—he
Was ancient clad like one of the Medici.

Piero:
     Why are you here, Paolo, after a first night
     Like that?  Flaming!  Everyone crying “Paolo”!

125

     Crowding onto the stage, crowning Giovanna with flowers.
     Then when they cleared, and we set out the supper
     On the stage, you know—as we planned—and everyone
     Came from the dressing-rooms in Florentine
     Costume, you know—as we planned—then we missed you.

130

     I rushed here—never thinking! [Page 68]

Paolo:
                                                        And you found me.
     After failure a little realm of quiet.

Piero:
     Failure!

Paolo:
     After the end a pause before the end!

Piero:
     Failure!  The most absolute success!

135


Paolo
:
     I will tell you, Piero, inner secrets—
     A play within a play—in the second act
     Giovanna was to give my love an answer—
     It was not so arranged—too subtle for that,
     When she handed Antonio the flowers

140

     I was to divine it by a certain gesture
     Imagined long by me,—it was to come
     Instinctive to her, like a revelation:
     There she failed, wanting in noble insight!

Piero:
     Fancy, morbid fancy—tortured, over-wrought!

145

     We all know that Giovanna loves you!
     She knows it now herself, no one could act
     Like that, unless she loved!

Paolo:
                                                  And yet, and yet,
     It is the end! [Page 69]

Piero:
     I’ll rush back and bring the restless players

150

     With torches and music and tear you out of this
     And set you with your triumph.

Paolo:
                                Give her these flowers!

Piero:
     Primroses! those flowers in the second act were primroses!

Paolo:
     They were false—tell her—

Piero:
                                                                  What?

Paolo:
     Well, nothing, Piero, the flowers will tell her.

155


The place was still when music danced about,

Dark when the torches played upon the gloom,
The jest and clamour of a merry rout
Was heard by no one in the upper room;
Then there was breathless running on the stair,

160

Confusion at the door, and frantic groping there.

Piero:
     One moment!  Wait!

Giovanna:
     Is there no more haste in the world?

Piero:
     All dark, there’s something terribly wrong here,
     Go back! [Page 70]

165


Giovanna
:
     What the flowers told me!  Jesu have pity!
     But if there be no pity give me strength!


VI


Youth is a blossom yellow at the edge,
All full of honeyed pleasantness,
If you leave it, it will wither in the hedge,

170

If you pluck it, it will wither none the less,
Then pluck it—that were better after all,
But pluck it with a sort of wistfulness,
Yea, pluck it if you must, and let it fall
Regretfully, with a last touch of tenderness,

175

Before the colour and the honey all
Are flown away,
And you are holding but a withered tress
Of passion and of loveliness.
Now let it fall—

180

Yet hold it—hold it—’tis thy youth!
Nay, let it fall—fall—fall—
Caress it ere it fall,
Then let it fall and die.


VII

A FAIRY FUNERAL


What we bury here is nought,

185

Hardly dreaming, hardly thought.

For dead fairies go nowhere,
Leaving nothing in the air.

Their clear bodies are all through
Made of shadow, mixed with dew. [Page 71]

190


When they change their fairy state,
They, like dew, evaporate.

But we fairies that remain,
The dead fairy’s funeral feign.

Place within a shepherd’s purse

195

Primrose pollen; for a hearse,

Lady-birds we harness up
To an empty acorn cup.

This we bury, deep in moss;—
Then we mourn our grievous loss,

200


Mourn with music, piercing thin,
Cricket with his mandolin,

Many a hautboy, many a flute,
Played by them you fancy mute.

Then a solemn epigraph

205

Grave we on the cenotaph:—

“Once a fairy of the best,
Here lies nothing,—Stranger, rest,—

“Ponder,—when you change your state,
You may thus evaporate,

210


“Follow where the fairy goes,
Into nothing, no one knows.”


VIII


Bleak Spring in a north city overseas,
In the moist window of a florist’s shop,
Pots of primroses, [Page 72]

215

Labelled ‘Only a quarter.’
The drizzle begins to freeze,
Daylight closes:
The passers-by loiter or stop,
And one old body

220

Broken with child-bearing and woe
And work and toddy
Looks once and lo!
An English lane below the thorns
Was gilded with the glow

225

Of a myriad lemon-coloured horns,—
Primroses—primroses!
All her girlish days came with a rush
Back from her shire home where the wild thrush
Sprinkled the primrose buds with music,

230

And the young morning light
Soared up to meet the skylark on his height.
She fingered in the knotted corner of a rag
A coin, the very price!
Her faded blue-bell eyes

235

Were moistened with remembrance;
She dreamed a little—murmured in her dream.
“The same old bloomin’ colour!
But I keeps my quarter,
Though—perhaps I’d orter;

240

Would it please old Jerry
If I was to blow it?
But the merry stuff—the merry,—
Tcht! is London Dry!
P’rhaps I’d orter!

245

But he’ll never know it, [Page 73]
And anyhow he wouldn’t give a damn;
This darling little quarter,
(Feeling it fondly in the filthy rag)
Oh my eye!

250

(Giving her head a roguish wag)
Will buy a proper dram,
Then we’ll be merry,
One drink for me and two for dear old Jerry.”


IX

ECOSSAISE


My Love is like the primrose light

255

      That springs up with the morn,
My love is like the early night
      Before the stars are born.

My Love is like the shine and shade
      That ripple on the wood,

260

(The shadow is her dark green plaid,
      The light her silver snood).

They never meet with eager lips,
      And mingle in their mirth,
They only touch their finger-tips,

265

      And circle round the earth.

My Love’s so pure, so winsome-sweet,
      So dancing with delight,
That I shall love her till they meet,
      And all the world is night.

270

X


A few chords now for a brimming close,
No climax, but a fading away [Page 74]
Into something either grave or gay
As the line wanders and falters.  The rose
Must fade and the tone must lessen and die,

275

But the sweetest note of a melody
Is the last note, and who can tell
That the last note in the long tune
Of life on the earth will not be fraught
With all the joy of each perished day.

280

The earth will pass in frost, they say,
And be all senseless like the moon.
Well, as the earth grows stark and cold,
Let us imagine it will hold
To the very end, the things worth while.

285

The last of all the race, a youth
And a maid with a shy triumphant smile,
Adam and Eve—beyond all ruth—
Above the need of trial or pardon,
Happy alone in their frozen garden,

290

And a Primrose hid in the withered foliage
Fallen down from the Tree of Knowledge,
To glow with clarid light and lend
A touch of beauty to the end.
They will recall a wild strange myth,—

295

Once the earth was warm to the very pith
With noble fire and the sun cast light,
And the heart of man was burning bright;
They will love in a final fashion,
The quintessential human passion,

300

The summation of all vanished love
With beauty as the breath thereof,
Love their last word, and human bliss [Page 75]
Rounded upon a marble kiss.
For cold will stop their breathing there,

305

And they will never know nor care
How, long ago in the blithe air,
The old earth really looked in May,
When over every lane and glade
IT WAS HIGH SPRING AND ALL THE WAY

310

PRIMROSED, AND HUNG WITH SHADE.

 


LILACS AND HUMMING BIRDS


LACE-LIKE in the moonlight,
The white lilac tree was quiet,
A little form of dream delight
Within a dreaming scene,
Like a little bride of shadow

5

In a dim secluded eyot,
With perfume for an element
Around the white and green.

The secret of this dream delight,
The core of this bride-quiet,

10

Hid even from the moonlight
By the heart-leaved screen,
Was the dew encrusted jewel
Of a ruby-throat, and nigh it
A nest of sleeping humming-birds

15

Amid the white and green. [Page 76]

 


SPIRIT AND FLESH


I


A HOUSE stands clear on a mellow rise,
          With meadows in a ring,
An orchard blossoms white with surprise
          At the urgency of spring.

The meadows fall to the winnowed sand

5

          Where a cove breaks free,
Like the curve of a fragile ivory hand
          Trembling full of the sea.


II


(He speaks.)
    Here is your pantry, love,

10

    Full of useful dishes,
    All the glass and napery
    The heart of woman wishes.

    Here is your parlour,
    Hung with rose and mauve,

15

    All its lacquer cabinets
    Filled with treasure trove.

    Here is your chamber, love,
    With its smooth bed,
    With the pretty chintz flowered

20

    Canopy overhead.

    We shall sit beneath the tree,
    When our work is done,
    Watch the colour in the orchard
    From the setting sun. [Page 77]

25

III.


(She speaks.)
    O life what do you hold
    So mysterious, so alluring,
    That I have no rest?
    The sea’s breast

30

    Tells me the whole round earth
    Is flaming with haunts of pleasure,
    Glades where deathless dancers
    Weave and swerve
    To music that maddens the nerve,

35

    Scents that pierce like sounds,
    Vision without bounds,
    Colour that changes as fire
    Changes, and deeps of desire
    Whose margins are ferned with dreams.

40

    Take me, O Life,
    Drive me like a shuttle
    Through the warp of pleasure,
    The woof shall I give without measure
    To the last hour,

45

    But stint me no longer
    Of passion and power!


IV


It was a painted evening at the fall
       Of leaf and apple and frost-withered grape,
A form was flitting through the hall

50

       Of changeful colour and shape.

It paced the floor, it climbed the narrow stair,
       It wreathed the chamber door with quick desire,
The only bride that entered there
       Was the swift bride of fire; [Page 78]

55


She lived her sudden life so wild, so feared,
       Of all the petty wealth she left alone
A pit of rubble scarred and seared,
       A broken threshold stone.

Yet over the ruin hovers a ghostly house,

60

       The walls, and roof, and chambers all inwove
With unquiet memories, tremulous,
       And phantom treasure trove.


V


(He speaks from the world.)
    The turn of a throat,

65

    A glint of hair,
    It might be—!
    I rush in the tides of men
    Following a shadow;
    She might be here or there;

70

    Rescue her from splendour,
    Rescue her faint, tender
    Feet from disaster;
    O Master of Life,
    Lay her gleaming head

75

    Radiant or broken
    Here on my breast!


VI


But never a thought for the ghost of the house on the hill
      That he burned with fire, or the crescent of winnowed sand,
That holds the sea as the new moon holds the still,

80

      Gray wraith of a perished moon in her ivory hand. [Page 79]


VII


(She speaks from the world.)
    I have conquered all life with its glory and passion,
              Its beauty and danger;
    There is nothing of chance or of folly or fashion

85

              To which I am stranger.
    My insatiable heart is yet bounding and eager
              For potent new flashes;
    The body of bye-gone delights is as meager
              And arid as ashes.

90

VIII


    But the ghost on the hill
              Hovers not alone,
    A fond spirit flits as will
              To the threshold stone;

    Enters on the vacant air,

95

              Counts the pantry store,
    Climbs the visionary stair
              To the upper floor;

    Sets her little room to rights,
              When the work is done,

100

    In the orchard sees the lights
              From the setting sun;

    Turns her vision to the sand,
              Watches wistfully,
    The cove like the curve of an ivory hand

105

              Trembling full of the sea. [Page 80]

 


THE FLIGHT


She:

                                     Not one step farther:——
    What yawns below is Death,—the lightning showed me.

He:
                    I was too careful for the path, our feet
    Cannot tread air.

She:
                                    My heart lives in the dark
    Before your face; you are advanced too far,—

5

    To feel safe I should have the beating of your heart
    Next mine; then, if we slip and live a moment
    Till the air drowns us, we live together
    The last moment.

He:
                                     The precipice curves upward here
    And outward; press to the wall for shelter.

10

    That was a stab!  Nimble lightning to avoid
    The imminent thunder-crash!  Did your heart stop?

She:
    Death dogs us!  Lures us on a perilous mountain
    Full of traps and then casts storm upon us.

He:
    Death’s full of fraud, but we have a light

15

    For his deception.

She:
                                              A light? [Page 81]

He:
                                                             Why, Love!

She:
    Alas!  Death is so envious of Love!
    Thunder is not more envious of lightning
    That flies before and is not when he calls.

He:
    True!—  So Death can never overtake Love!

She:
                        But think of all those piteous lovers

20

    Deluded that they were shut in with God,
    Yet Death struck them;—  Tristan and Isolde,
    Launcelot and Guinevere, and the whirling pair,
    Paolo and that other, transfixed forever
    By the bitter-lipped Florentine.  Their sobs

25

    Fill all the world; then how shall we escape?

He:
    These models of agony the mad world
    Cherishes, but the greatest lovers go
    Unrecorded, the line of the profoundest poet
    Finds tides under his deepest lead; resources

30

    Of passion are hid in simple lives like ours
    Would swamp his boat to lift them from the deeps.

She:
    But Death’s the point, and if he falls
    On such high peers of pure romance
    He’ll crush us with the wind of a frown. [Page 82]

35


He:

    Death’s full of fraud, he’s but negation,
    We know of him by breathing.  The cunning fellow
    Has a mask he wears to look like Life.

She:
    He’s dropped it now and I fear his glare
    That lit those older passions; and no pity

40

    Showed from his naked countenance then.

He:
    Careless Death, who has lost his precious mask
    Found by two mortals fearless made through Love!—
    Here in the hollow of the ample cheek
    Above the awful oval of the mouth

45

    We’ll hide, and when Death calls us, sharp, once,
    We will not answer;—and when Death, testy,
    Calls us twice, we’ll be oblivious,
    And when Death calls us thrice—for the last time,
    Mark you,—we’ll be asleep.  Then Death will say

50

    “I’ve lost those lovers, so they’re lost, they’re lost,
    They were to die to-day,—but now they’re lost.”
    So the old dotard fumbling in the mist
    About his throat—will stumble here and there
    And cry,—“My Mask, my Mask! how can these mortals

55

    Look upon Death unless he looks like Life,
    My Mask!”  And then he’ll find it lying here
    And raise us clear until your sparkling beauty
    Catch in his eye and then he’ll startle up
    With—“Ha!  I have them now these tricksy

60

    Bemused and vagrant lovers fast asleep [Page 83]
    In the precinct and appurtenance of Death.”
    He’ll peer upon us like a wildered pearl-fisher
    That finds two priceless pearls in a single shell;
    He’ll say—“She minds me of another face

65

    Some dim complaint in the ages gone
    That cried out on me, and so agonized
    In simple words that poison memory still.
    Not of the famous lovers of the world,
    Arthur’s tall queen, or she that drank Love’s potion

70

    On the wild sea, or the bewitched Egyptian,
    But one of those whose passion is pure tragic,—
    The unknown lovers ever are the greatest,—
    They that build the scaffold up for these
    Brave puppets to pine and pose as Love’s exemplars.

75

    Well, for her sake sleep on but for an hour;
    Your time shall come; pity is but postponement.
    Some kingliness too hovers about the youth,
    He shelters her with nobleness; an echo
    Of something haunts my ear, of deeds with swords

80

    For lighting, coupled somehow in covenant
    With her whose beauty pierced me long ago.
    Let him hold her close, for their brief fluttering hour
    Is but a moth-wing in the wind of time.
    Pity is but—what—pity!”  So, wandering,

85

    He’ll drowse and start, and doze and start—and sleep,
    And then we’ll spring and take him in a net
    And show him in the markets of the world,
    Confuting all the skeptics of renown,
    Here’s the pure proof that Love can conquer Death. [Page 84]

90


She:

    The storm dwindles: the lightning hangs like signals
    In the rear-guard of retreat, a cool wind
    Blows backward from the vortex of the cloud;
    There’s a starved moon at the tip of the crag
    That hunts like a silver hound for starlight;

95

    She’ll pass, and next in progress comes the dawn.

He:
    We’ll wait secure and hear the crushed thunder
    Recoil, and the water-voices of the gorge
    Fill in the pauses, and then the faint first light
    Will point the peaks and we’ll go down to safety.

100

 


SEPTEMBER


THE morns are grey with haze and faintly cold,
     The early sunsets arc the west with red;
     The stars are misty silver overhead,
Above the dawn Orion lies outrolled.
Now all the slopes are slowly growing gold,

5

     And in the dales a deeper silence dwells;
     The crickets mourn with funeral flutes and bells,
For days before the summer had grown old.

Now the night-gloom with hurrying wings is stirred,
     Strangely the comrade pipings rise and sink

10

        The birds are following in the pathless dark
        The footsteps of the pilgrim summer.  Hark!
     Was that the redstart or the bobolink?
That lonely cry the summer-hearted bird? [Page 85]

 


A MYSTERY PLAY


CHARACTERS

The Father.   The Child.   Death.   Angels.   Two Travellers.


•        •        •        •        •


THE even settles still and deep,

In the cold sky the last gold burns,
Across the colour snowflakes creep.
Each one from grey to glory turns
Then flutters into nothingness;

5

The frost down falls with mighty stress
Through the swift cloud that parts on high;
The great stars shrivel into less
In the hard depth of the iron sky.


•        •        •        •        •


THE CHILD:
    What is that light, dear father,

10

        That light in the dark, dark sky?

THE FATHER:
    Those are the lights of the city
        And the villages thereby.

THE CHILD:
    There must be fire in the city
        To throw that yellow glare;

15

    And fire in the little villages
        On all the hearthstones there. [Page 86]

THE FATHER, musing:
    Yea, flames are on the hearthstones;
        The ovens are full of bread,
    But here the coals are dying

20

        And the flames are dead.

THE CHILD:
    What is the cold, dear father?
        It stings like an angry bee.
    Wherever it stings my hand turns white,
        See!

25


THE FATHER:
    The cold is a beast, my dear one,
        With his paws he tears at the thatch,
    His breath is a curse and a warning,
        You can see it creep on the latch.

THE CHILD:
    If ’tis a wolf, dear father,

30

        That lies with his paw on the floor,
    Let us heat the spade in the embers
        And drive him away from the door.

ANGELS:
God is the power of growth,
In the snail and the tree,

35

God is the power of growth
In the heart of the man.

THE CHILD:
    Did you not hear the singing,
        Voices overhead?
    Mother’s voice and Ruth’s voice,

40

        Voices of the dead. [Page 87]

THE FATHER, musing:
    Our Ruth died in the springtime,
        With the spade I turned the sod,
    We buried her by the brier rose,
        Her life is hid with God.

45


THE CHILD:
    All summer long in the garden
        No roses came to the tree.
    Father, was it for sorrow,
        Sorrow for thee and me?

THE FATHER:
    Roses grew in the garden,

50

        I saw them at morning and even,
    Shadows of earthly roses
        They bloomed for fingers in heaven.


•        •        •        •        •


    The air is very clear and still,

    The moonlight falls from half the sphere;

55

    The shadow from the silver hill
    Fills half the vale, and half is clear
    As the moon’s self with cloudless snow;
    By the dead stream the alders throw
    Their shadows, shot with tingling spars;

60

    On the sheer height the elm trees glow:
    Their tops are tangled with the stars.


•        •        •        •        •


THE CHILD:
    Father, the coals are dying,
        See!  I have heated the spade,
    Let me throw the door wide open,

65

        I will not be afraid. [Page 88]

THE FATHER:
    Let me kiss you once on the forehead,
        And once on your darling eyes;
    We may see them both at the dawning,
        In the dales of Paradise.

70


THE CHILD:
    And if I only see them,
        I will tell them how you smiled;
    For the wolf, you know, is angry,
        And I am a little child.

DEATH:
    Undaunted spirits,

75

    I give thee peace,
    For a world of dread—
    Calm.
    For desperate toil—
    Rest.

80

    Thou who didst say,
    When the waters of poverty
    Waxed deep, deep,
    What we bear is best;
    Just ones,

85

    I give thee sleep.

FIRST TRAVELLER:
    Keep up your spirits, I know
    There’s a cabin under the hill,
    The fellow will make a roaring fire;
    We’ll heat our hands and drink our fill

90

    And go warm to our heart’s desire! [Page 89]

SECOND TRAVELLER:
    The door is open,—Heigho!
    This pair will claim neither crown nor groat,
    The man has gripped his garden spade
    As if he would dig his grave in the snow;

95

    The boy has the face of a saint, I trow;
    His brow says, “I was not afraid!”

FIRST TRAVELLER:
    Ah, well, these things must be, you know!
    Gather your sables around your throat;
    Give us that story about the monk,

100

    His niece, and the wandering conjurer,
    Just to keep our blood astir.

THE ANGELS:
    The heart of God,
    The worlds and man,
    Are fashioned and molded,

105

    In a subtle plan;
    Passion outsurges,
    Sweeps far but converges;
    Nothing is lost,
    Sod or stone,

110

    But comes to its own;
    Bear well thy joy,
    ’Tis mixed with alloy,
    Bear well thy grief,
    ’Tis a rich full sheaf:

115

    Gather the souls that have passed in the night,
    Theirs is the peace and the light. [Page 90]


•        •        •        •        •


    The moon is gone, the dawning brings
    A deeper dark with silver blent,
    Above the wells where, myriad, springs

120

    Light from the crimson orient;
    The elms are born, the shadows creep,
    Tremble and melt away—one sweep
    The great soft colour floods and flows,
    Where under snow the roses sleep;

125

    The morn has turned the snow to rose.

 


EQUATION


WHEN we grow old, and time looks like thief,
That was the spendthrift of our dearest days;
When colour mingles merged in silvered grays;
When joys are ever memoried to be brief;
When beauty fades; when hope is under feof;

5

When all our moods are mantled in a haze;
When sprightly pleasure for a penance plays
The part of prudence in the weeds of grief;
It will suffice if unto memory
Visit the voices and the eager grace

10

Of days that promised never to forget;
If they will flow like rumors of the sea,
Heard under honied lindens in the place,
Where the marguerite and the mignonette. [Page 91]

 


SENZA FINE


THAT is the rain
Sobbing, sobbing
Against the window pane.
And the wind comes robbing
The rain of its voice

5

And leaves me no choice,
In the dead room,
But to hear the noise
Of my heart throbbing, throbbing.

But before the storm

10

The evening was warm
I remember, and calm,
And by the mill dam
The martins were flashing,
If she had not said—!

15

But then say it she did—
I should be rid
Of the throbbing, throbbing,
At the heart of the shadow
That stands by the window

20

Sobbing, sobbing,
And breathes the dark
And sucks at the noise
Like a vampire—hark!
Robbing, robbing

25

The storm of its voice.

The miller’s children at play,
I remember, called to each other,
And I tried to smother
The sound of her words, [Page 92]

30

But then—what she showed me!
’Tis between her vest,
The one I gave on her birthday,
Crimson, with silver pomegranates,
And her breast:

35

They will find it there,
But what can they say?
They cannot find
What it did to my mind,
Or what she said

40

When she threw back her head
And smiled,
So maddening, so wild.
To the left of the trail
Through the beaver meadow,

45

An arm of the swale
Is bordered with iris,
And the ferns grow rank,
But nothing is dank,
Crisp, pungent, dry:

50

The wind lingers by,
And stops.
There may have been a few drops.
Throbbing, throbbing,
And there is the rain

55

Robbing, robbing
The wind of its voice,
And it beats again
On the window pane,
Sobbing, sobbing.

60

                            (Senza fine) [Page 93]

 




THE SAILOR’S SWEETHEART


O IF love were had for asking,
     In the markets of the town,
Hardly a lass would think to wear
     A fine silken gown:
But love is had by grieving

5

By choosing and by leaving,
And there’s no one now to ask me
If heavy lies my heart.

O if love were had for a deep wish
     In the deadness of the night,

10

There’d be a truce to longing
     Between the dusk and the light:
But love is had for sighing,
For living and for dying,
And there’s no one now to ask me

15

If heavy lies my heart.

O if love were had for taking
     Like honey from the hive,
The bees that made the tender stuff
     Could hardly keep alive:

20

But love it is a wounded thing,
A tremor and a smart,
And there’s no one left to kiss me now
Over my heavy heart. [Page 94]

 




PROLOGUE


Spoken at the opening of The Little Theatre, Ottawa, January 18th, 1923.


     (Enter the Spirit of the Drama, before the curtain, clad in an old cloak with worn sandals on her feet, and holding a wrinkled mask to her face, but hidden is a beautiful dress.)


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

AH, I am weary and cold—
This is a harsh dominion, full of snow,
Sleet and other kinds of rude weather.
Where are the flowers they promised, and the grain
That made gold ripples in acres of sunlight.

5

They are not, and the ruthless wind has wrenched
The last leaf from the naked tree.
I am the Spirit of Drama; there is no home for me here.
I went up and down the streets, seeking a shelter,
And found none.  There were lights enough,

10

Throngs under the lights and laughter—but no wish
To house an old dull crone with an ancient face.
Pictures were dancing along like the visions of a madman.
In palaces with dark warm spaces,
With music in the warm dark spaces.

15

For here our art is foisted on a screen,
Mechanic, flat and soundless; the sense
Comes after the picture, like a brickbat thrown at a dog,
Or in advance, like a tramp’s grace before a meal of cold victuals,
But where is the palace for the living drama,

20

Vivid with colour and music and movement?
Nowhere;—The tender beauty of human speech, [Page 95]
The cadence of the voice, the moving charm
That lends to life its fragrance and its force,
Are lost in the confusion and hurry of a peep-show—

25

A great inheritance sold for a mess of pottage.


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE (clad in Motley) enters through the curtain:

Dear beggar woman, I say Goodeven to you.


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

Dear Maid, Goodeven to you, and why
Are you dressed in motley?


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE:

O, I am the spirit of this House.

30


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

And what House may this be?


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE:

O, The House of Make-believe;—
But you are cold and your cloak is wretched
And your sandals are broken, and your face—your face—


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

Yes, sweet maid, you would say my face is ugly and wrinkled—

35

But you are compassionate.  Once I was fair,
And wore garments that matched my fairness.
I had maids that tended me, men that gave their souls for me,
Women that bartered their beauty for me—


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE:

Dear beggar woman, you must have been a queen. [Page 96]

40


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

Yes, and to queens the present “must have been
Is bitter, and ill paid for by the most splendid retrospect.


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE:

Dear beggar woman, I would serve you if I might,
For to be maid to a fallen queen
Is better than to be housekeeper to a rich upstart.

45


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

Yes, but I have nothing to pay you withal.
I have none of my jewels left,—
They were scattered in a far country,—
Only these poor garments you see,
And this face full of care and wrinkles,

50

You cannot serve even a fallen queen,
Unless she has a tiring-room and a bread-trough,
And I have no home and nowhere to rest.


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE:

You have no home?


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

I had a home beside the purple sea,

55

When Greek was music round the murmuring shores,
I had a home in that sweet island,
Our Shakespeare in the homeliness of his love
Called “a swan’s nest in a great pool.”
I have a home wherever men desire

60

To tell the passions of the human heart
In swift clear speech; to probe the mind
And lay the motive plain as a pathway on a map;
To show how the heart may be merry when ’tis sad,
And often sad when merry. [Page 97]

65


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE:

O then your home is here,
And you may live with us,
This is no palace—
This is a humble house—
A very little humble house of Make-believe.

70

But we mean to mouth and strut it with the best;
What we do falls short of our desire,
But we use our deeds to measure our desire,
And that’s immeasurable!


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

Dear Maid, your promise sounds

75

Like a sweet flute in tempest,
Or like a kindred voice that after many wanderings
Calls back the wanderer.


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE:

Then come and you shall sometime see
Many a grave spirit and many a merry one.

80

You shall perhaps meet Imogen and Portia,
And that sweet maid that gave the flowers to the shepherds.
You shall meet myriads of the Moderns.
But here to-night we have two homespun plays,
Two native things of our rude climate.—

85

One is sad and one is merry,
And the merry one’s the best, at least
The author of the sad one says so.
We have the Seasons dancing and the Year watching them.
If you dread our winter, you will find

90

That we have spring here always in our hearts. [Page 98]


THE SPIRIT OF THE DRAMA:

So that will warm me,
I will go in and sojourn with you,
For what the Spirit of Drama craves
Is light and housing and that cheerful wit

95

That loves the doing for the sake of the deed.

(She throws off her disguise, the Spirit of the House assisting).

I give my sandals to the uneasy person
Who leaves before the play is ended;
May they lend him noiseless speed
To an entertainment that will please him better.

100

I leave my old cloak for our friends the critics
With my earnest desire for their comfort;
May it let into their hearts as much forbearance
As it did chilliness into my shoulders.
My mask, I leave to the lover who needs

105

To wear it to better his features,
Wishing that his mistress may take it for the face of Adonis;
And my very heartfelt entreaties
I leave for you all.


THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE (leading her through the curtain):

Come Splendour. [Page 99]

110

 


LABOUR AND THE ANGEL


THE wind plunges—then stops;
And a column of leaves in a whirl,
Like a dervish that spins—drops,
With a delicate rustle,
Falls into a circle that thins;

5

The leaves creep away one by one,
Hiding in hollows and ruts;
Silence comes down on the lane:
The light wheels slow from the sun,
And glints where the corn stood,

10

And strays over the plain,
Touching with patches of gold,
The knolls and the hollows,
Crosses the lane,
And slips into the wood;

15

Then flashes a mile away on the farm,
A moment of brightness fine;
Then the gold glimmers and wanes,
And is swept by a clouding of gray,
For cheek by jowl, arm in arm,

20

The shadow’s afoot with the shine.
The wind roars out from the elm,
Then leaps tiger-sudden;—the leaves
Shudder up into heaps and are caught
High as the branch where they hung

25

Over the oriole’s nest.
Down in the sodden field,
A blind man is gathering his roots,
Guided and led by a girl; [Page 100]
Her gold hair blows in the wind,

30

Her garments with flutter and furl
Leap like a flag in the sun;
And whenever he stoops, she stoops,
And they heap the dark coloured beets
In the barrow, row upon row.

35

When it is full to the brim,
He wheels it patiently, slow,
Something oppressive and grim
Clothing his figure, but she
Beautifully light at his side,

40

Touches his arm with her hand,
Ready to help or to guide:
Power and comfort at need
In the flex of her figure lurk,
The fire at the heart of the deed

45

The angel that watches o’er work.

This is her visible form,
Heartening the labour she loves,
Keeping the breath of it warm,
Warm as a nestling of doves.

50

Humble or high or sublime,
Hers no reward of degrees,
Ditching as precious as rhyme,
If only the spirit be true.
“Effort and effort,” she cries,

55

“This is the heart-beat of life,
Up with the lark and the dew,
Still with the dew and the stars,
Feel it athrob in the earth.” [Page 101]

When labour is counselled by love,

60

You may see her splendid, serene,
Bending and brooding above,
With the justice and power of her mien;
Where thought has its passionate birth,
Her smile is the sweetest renown,

65

For the stroke and the derring-do
Her crown in the starriest crown.
When tears at the fountain are dry,
Bares she the round of her breast,
Soft to the cicatrized cheek,

70

Lulls this avatar of rest;
Strength is her arm for the weak;
Courage the wells of her eyes;
What is the power of their deeps,
Only the baffled can guess;

75

Nothing can daunt the emprise
When she sets hand to the hilt;
Victory is she—not less.
And oh! in the cages and dens
Where women work down to the bone,

80

Where men never laugh but they curse,
Think you she leaves them alone?
She the twin-sister of Love!
There, where the pressure is worst,
Of this hell-palace built to the skies

85

Upon hearts too crushed down to burst,
There, she is wiser than wise,
Giving no vistas sublime
Of towers in the murmurous air,
With gardens of pleasuance and pride [Page 102]

90

Lulling the fleetness of time,
With doves alight by the side
Of a fountain that veils and drips;
She offers no tantalus-cup
To the shrunken, the desperate lips;

95

But she calms them with lethe and love,
And deadens the throb and the pain,
And evens the heart-beat wild,
Whispering again and again,
“Work on, work on, work on,

100

My broken, my agonized child,”
With her tremulous, dew-cool lips,
At the whorl of the tortured ear,
Till the cry is the presage of hope,
The trample of succour near.

105


And for those whose desperate day
Breeds night with a leaguer of fears,
(Night, that on earth brings the dew,
With stars at the window, and wind
In the maples, and rushes of balm,)

110

She pours from their limitless stores
Her sacred, ineffable tears.
When a soul too weary of life
Sets to its madness an end,
Then for a moment her eyes

115

Lighten, and thunder broods dark,
Heavy and strong at her heart;
But for a moment, and then
All her imperious wrath
Breaks in a passion of tears, [Page 103]

120

With the surge of her grief outpoured,
She sinks on the bosom of Love,
Her sister of infinite years,
And is wrapped, and enclosed, and restored.

So we have come with the breeze,

125

Up to the height of the hill,
Lost in the valley trees,
The old blind man and the girl;
But deep in the heart is the thrill
Of the image of counseling love;

130

The shape of the soul in the gloom,
And the power of the figure above,
Stand for the whole world’s need:
For labour is always blind,
Unless as the light of the deed

135

The angel is smiling behind.

Now on the height of the hill,
The wind is fallen to a breath;
But down in the valley still,
It stalks in the shadowy wood,

140

And angers the river’s breast;
The fields turn into the dark
That plays on the round of the sphere;
A star leaps sharp in the clear
Line of the sky, clear and cold;

145

But a cloud in the warmer west
Holds for a little its gold;
Like the wing of a seraph who sinks
Into antres afar from the earth,
Reluctant he flames on the brinks [Page 104]

150

Of the circles of nebulous stars,
Reluctant he turns to the rest,
From the planet whose ideal is love,
And then as he sweeps to the void
Vivid with tremulous light,

155

He gives it his translucent wing,
An emblem of pity unfurled,
Then falls to the uttermost ring,
And is lost to the world.

 


OFF THE ISLE AUX COUDRES


THE moon, Capella, and the Pleiades
     Silver the river’s grey uncertain floor;
     Only a heron haunts the grassy shore;
A fox barks sharply in the cedar trees;
Then comes the lift and lull of plangent seas,

5

     Swaying the light marish grasses more and more
     Until they float, and the slow tide brims o’er,
And then a rivulet runs along the breeze.

O night! thou art so beautiful, so strange, so sad;
     I feel that sense of scope and ancientness,

10

Of all the mighty empires thou has had
     Dreaming of power beneath thy palace dome,
Of how thou art untouched by their distress,
     Supreme above this dreaming land, my home. [Page 105]

 


THE HARVEST


SUN on the mountain,
Shade in the valley,
Ripple and lightness
Leaping along the world,
Sun, like a gold sword

5

Plucked from the scabbard,
Striking the wheat-fields,
Splendid and lusty,
Close-standing, full-headed,
Toppling with plenty;

10

Shade, like a buckler
Kindly and ample,
Sweeping the wheat-fields
Darkening and tossing;
There on the world-rim

15

Winds break and gather
Heaping the mist
For the pyre of the sunset;
And still as a shadow,
In the dim westward,

20

A cloud sloop of amethyst
Moored to the world
With cables of rain.

Acres of gold wheat
Stir in the sunshine,

25

Rounding the hilltop,
Crested with plenty,
Filling the valley,
Brimmed with abundance; [Page 106]
Wind in the wheat-field

30

Eddying and settling,
Swaying it, sweeping it,
Lifting the rich heads,
Tossing them soothingly;
Twinkle and shimmer

35

The lights and the shadowings,
Nimble as moonlight
Astir in the mere.
Laden with odors
Of peace and of plenty,

40

Soft comes the wind
From the ranks of the wheat-field,
Bearing a promise
Of harvest and sickle-time,
Opulent threshing floors

45

Dusty and dim
With the whirl of the flail,
And wagons of bread,
Down-laden and lumbering
Through the gateways of cities.

50


When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles,
Bending and grasping,
Shearing and spreading;
When will the gleaners

55

Searching the stubble
Take the last wheat-heads
Home in their arms? [Page 107]

Ask not the question!—
Something tremendous

60

Moves to the answer.

Hunger and poverty
Heaped like the ocean
Welters and mutters,
Hold back the sickles!

65


Millions of children
Born to their terrible
Ancestral hunger,
Starved in their mothers’ womb,
Starved at the nipple, cry—

70

Ours is the harvest!

Millions of women
Learned in the tragical
Secrets of poverty,
Sweated and beaten, cry,—

75

Hold back the sickles!

Millions of men
With a vestige of manhood,
Wild-eyed and gaunt-throated,
Shout with a leonine

80

Accent of anger,
Leave us the wheat-fields!

When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles?
Ask not the question;

85

Something tremendous
Moves to the answer. [Page 108]

Long have they sharpened
Their fiery, impetuous
Sickles of carnage,

90

Welded them æons
Ago in the mountains
Of suffering and anguish;
Hearts were their hammers
Blood was their fire,

95

Sorrow their anvil,
(Trusty the sickles
Tempered with tears;)
Time they had plenty—
Harvests and harvests

100

Passed them in agony,
Only a half-filled
Ear for their lot;
Man that had taken
God for a master

105

Made him a law,
Mocked him and cursed him,
Set up this hunger,
Called it necessity,
Put in the blameless mouth

110

Judas’s language:
The poor ye have with you
Alway, unending.

But up from the impotent
Anguish of children,

115

Up from the labour
Fruitless, unmeaning, [Page 109]
Of millions of mothers,
Hugely necessitous,
Grew by a just law

120

Stern and implacable,
Art born of poverty,
The making of sickles
Meet for the harvest.

And now to the wheat-fields

125

Come the weird reapers
Armed with their sickles,
Whipping them keenly
In the fresh-air fields,
Wild with the joy of them,

130

Finding them trusty,
Hilted with teen.
Swarming like ants,
The Idea for captain,
No banners, no bugles,

135

Only a terrible
Ground-bass of gathering
Tempest and fury,
Only a tossing
Of arms and of garments;

140

Sexless and featureless,
(Only the children
Different among them,
Crawling between their feet,
Borne on their shoulders;)

145

Rolling their shaggy heads
Wild with the unheard-of [Page 110]
Drug of the sunshine;
Tears that had eaten
The half of their eyelids

150

Dry on their cheeks;
Blood in their stiffened hair
Clouted and darkened;
Down in their cavern hearts
Hunger the tiger,

155

Leaping, exulting;
Sighs that had choked them
Burst into triumphing;
On they come, Victory!
Up to the wheat-fields,

160

Dreamed of in visions
Bred by the hunger,
Seen for the first time
Splendid and golden;
On they come fluctuant,

165

Seething and breaking,
Weltering like fire
In the pit of the earthquake,
Bursting in heaps
With the sudden intractable

170

Lust of the hunger:
Then when they see them—
The miles of the harvest
White in the sunshine,
Rushing and stumbling,

175

With the mighty and clamorous
Cry of the people
Starved for creation, [Page 111]
Hurl themselves onward,
Deep in the wheat-fields,

180

Weeping like children,
After ages and ages,
Back at the breasts
Of their mother the earth.

Night in the valley,

185

Gloom on the mountain,
Wind in the wheat,
Far to the southward
The flutter of lightning,
The shudder of thunder;

190

But high at the zenith,
A cluster of stars
Glimmers and throbs
In the grasp of the midnight,
Steady and absolute,

195

Ancient and sure. [Page 112]

 


THE DAME REGNANT


AH! Dame Gossip fabulous!
You have worn the quiet smile,
Till your mouth is drawn as trim
As a Quaker’s beaver brim;
And when a rumour runs a mile,

5

You don’t know the soles he wears,
Never heard the rascal’s name;
If the neighbours bring the shoe,
Tug and tug it won’t fit you;
If it does, ah! shifty Dame,

10

Rumour’s last must be the same!
Hey! this comedy began
When the earth was blithe and young,
When the less fair of the fair
Daughters of the world of men,

15

Whispered in their errant hair,
How their sisters of the glance,
Clear and deep of star in blue,
Met the eager sons of God,
In the valley, in the dew,

20

On the myrtle-scented sod:
And the truants from the spheres
Heard like donging of herd-bells,
In the flow of harp and flute,
How those others in eclipse,

25

Withered up in jealousies,
Crowning malice in the eyes,
Over malice on the lips,
Hissed their word of hate and lies. [Page 113]
Ah! these truants from the spheres

30

Learnt the human in the note
Of the goddess, and were ware
How of all the torrent gold
Snakes were half and half was hair.

Yet the ages were as one

35

Heap of burnt and calcined stars,
Ere her popular crown was run
In the mould of human fears,
Ere her sceptre had been cast,
Tempered steel with foolish tears.

40

Now they view her at the last,
Personed like a regnant queen,
Cold as pole-ice, hard as quartz,
Loathly as the livid, lean
Adder of the triple tongue,

45

Basilisk eyes that reap and glean,
And a mind alert, elate,
With the splendour of her wit,
Springing through a smoky fate,
With a gleam of hell-fire lit.

50


And she wanders from her throne
(So these cringing lieges state),
While her shape still glooms it there;
And but give the wizard crone
Two small juttings in the air,

55

Spiderlike she weaves her web,
From her ancient ventral store,
Till the whole great house is meshed
With her legends, grim and hoar. [Page 114]
Or she starts a quiet mouse,

60

Feeding in the native cheese,
And a wolf springs from the rind,
Bloated out to what you please.
What she does not say she thinks;
Crafty, with a few dry winks,

65

Drops her poison in the eye,
Watching while it works and sinks;
When the eye is diamond clear,
Comes she with a slimy sigh,
Bred to catch the dullard ear,

70

Opening with the formula,
Stereoed to the devil’s phrase
In the human words, “They say;”
Then the burden of the tale
Crawls in after like a snail.

75

And if the dear vassal’s wild,
Why, her countenance is blank,
And her eye is dull as dulse;
But the finger dwells awhile
Calming on the plunging pulse,

80

Just for, say, a nunnery smile,
Till with magic overmuch,
All the story is conveyed,
Through the nerves intensive played,
Innuendo of the touch.

85


Once afoot the quarry flies,
From the hunter in the mind;
With a prudent, vacant smile,
Dull Saint Virgin drops her eyes, [Page 115]
Give the word with quiet guile,

90

Guarding with her sainted wish,
For the error of the tale,
The dear souls from blast and bale.
And the fighter to his trull
Tells his version of the yarn;

95

With his bull-brain all afire,
Charges down the ruddy rag
Of the world above his ire,
Tramps the tale in slag and mire.
And the comments run from “Pish,”

100

To the most convenient curse,
In the beggar’s damning purse.
So the story rolls and grows
Crescive as a cloudy head,
Budding silver in the blue,

105

From black root of thunder bred,
With the lightning splitting through.
Every subject stricken blind
With black fearing of the Dame,
Strained of nerve and lean of loin,

110

Passes on the strangest talk,
Like a counterfeited coin;
And the fear of her is wild,
Works like acid in the blood,
And the man is worse than child,

115

Saved by innocent hardihood.
How he supplicates and whines,
When he knows his fame is out,
And sees springing into lines
All the fables, shout on shout. [Page 116]

120


Thinks to run the talk to earth,
Talk that carries rumour’s lease;
Cloudy talk of vapor birth,
Chases on the plains of peace,
Or where tides of trade convulse;

125

Something mantled like a shape
Grasps at last with pounding pulse—
Mist he holds; while mocking rings
All the riot sprung anew,
With the flap and clap of wings.

130

Nay, my craven, you who fear
All this cackle of the crew,
Carping at your coward ear!
We who know the Dame so well,
Whence she sprang and how she grew,

135

Do not crown her deep with hell;
She is but an earthly shape
Springing from the parent ape,
Nothing wild with power or eld,
Nothing older than the race;

140

And this skull-face that you dread,
Is the image of your head.
Here where Comedy is held
Deep in honour as the star,
Spreading sparkle over sea,

145

You may see the Dame at will,
Nothing formed for dread or dree,
Contemplate her and be still:

She has worn the quiet smile,
Till her mouth is drawn as trim

150

As a Quaker’s beaver brim: [Page 117]
Her light eyes seem clear of guile,
And her smile is half demure,
Half malicious.  Let her play
One of her protean pranks,

155

Show her fangs and start her prey.
Now she dares the comic sprite,
Laughter only comes to light;
Ripples outward like a flag
Over towers inviolate,

160

Sparkles April as a brook,
Breaks where sun and shadow flit;
Laughter silver and secure,
From the crystal wells of wit,
Springing sanely, springing pure.

165

Mark your Dame of many crowns,
How she hardens into sphinx,
When she hears the airy ring
Of the master that she owns,
How, amorphous bulk, she shrinks,

170

How she trails and leers and winks,
Just a moment of gray rags,
Ere the wind has pounced and packed
All her baggage and her bags
Into limbo, and the dust

175

Rises in a smoke, and wracked
Drives the cloud in shreds and shags.
Laughter falling coolly clear,
Widens air and broaches sun,
Comes as healing to a fear

180

But of self and shadow spun:
Self, a lantern-candle, throws [Page 118]
Hugeous spottings on the wall;
Dance the tragic giant Oes,
Rayed from pin-points punctured small,

185

In the battered shadow-tin
Fused of deed and circumstance:
Coward in the gaping ring,
Bound without and look within,
Learn where fable flows and whence.

190


Speech is but the fluid mind,
Reaching outward over life.
Where quick speech is dammed we find
Cactus deserts sharp and dim,
Dead for water, ruin lined,

195

With a mirage on the rim
Of the sundown.  Let speech flow
Like the air, which is the soul
Of the world, from pole to pole;
Shaking in the swamp of death

200

With the poison bred of heat,
Timing with a tidal breath
The deep swaying of the wheat.
Not till mind is massed as near
Servant of the lucid soul,

205

Sensitive as ether clear,
Joining planets pole to pole,
Shall we have a dearth of this
Talk that lays the lash on life.
Only when the mind rings true

210

To the deep-held undertone [Page 119]
Heard where Nature moulds her young,
Will the fancy fail to brew
Noisome liquor for the tongue.
Heighten mind and heighten life,

215

Heighten comment above lure,
Heighten laughter above strife,
Bred to scourge the fancy pure.
Then will come the days of men,
When the mind will govern power;

220

When clear speech will spring again,
Flower unto a lovelier flower;
When dear laughter, victor browed,
From her scorning of your Dame,
Will play out a lambent flame

225

Over life to saneness vowed.

Contrast to the present hour!
As a sage might leave a coast
Where the cities shambles are,
And the people herded flesh,

230

Climb the uplands into wood
Where the trees are vined in mesh,
Where noon dreams with eyes of eve,
Where the beck is flecked with gold,
And the silver violets fold,

235

Under leafage cool and lush,
Where the moss is drenched with sleep,
Where the music-memoried thrush
Broods in dingles dusk and deep,
Upward to the brow of hill,

240

Where the wind soars cool with scent, [Page 120]
And the twilights end in stars,
Where upon the glimmering plain
Fireflies with the lights are blent
From the huts and haunts of men,

245

Jewels in the crown content.

 


YOUTH AND TIME


MOVE not so lightly, Time, away,
     Grant us a breathing-space of tender ruth;
Deal not so harshly with the flying day,
     Leave us the charm of spring, the touch of youth.

Leave us the lilacs wet with dew,

5

     Leave us the balsams odorous with rain,
Leave us of frail hepaticas a few,
     Let the red osier sprout for us again.

Leave us the hazel thickets set
     Alone the hills, leave us a month that yields

10

The fragile bloodroot and the violet,
     Leave us the sorrage shimmering on the fields.

You offer us largess of power,
     You offer fame, we ask not these in sooth,
These comfort age upon his failing hour,

15

     But oh, the charm of spring, the touch of youth! [Page 121]

 


THE FRAGMENT OF A LETTER


YOU will recall, of all those magic nights
One when we floated on the sunset lights,
In all the mirrored crimson from the flare;
Not knowing whether we were led by air
Or by secret impulse of the lake.

5

We watched the youthful darkness swiftly take
The burning mountain-chain of fretted colour
And drench it with his dream of dusk;—duller
It grew and duller, to a high coast of ashes.
The impalpable sheet lightning fled in flashes,

10

Signalling, in a vivid instant code,
The approach of another wonder-episode
Of beauty, ever stealing nigh and nigher,
And then we were aware of the still fire
Of the Great Moon!

15


We neared a shadowy island where we lay
And watched the faint illusive moonlight play
Along the shore whereon our tents were pitched.
The silver-birches like live things bewitched
By malice jealous of their beauty, stood

20

Upon the liquid threshold of the wood.
Then quick upon the dark, like knocks of fate,
There fell three axe-strokes, and then clear, elate
Came back the echoes true to tune and time,
Three axe-strokes—rhythmed and matched in rhyme;

25

Then a leaf-comment died away in murmurs.
The smoke of our camp-fire amid the firs
Like a tall ghost rose up below the moon.
The enchanted water joined an antiphonal rune [Page 122]
In labials and liquids with the rocky shoal

30

Where we were moored by pressure of the breeze,
That barely chafed our bark canoe, and stole
Like a wing-flutter through the hazel-trees.
Hidden above there, half asleep, a thrush
Spoke a few silver words upon the hush,—

35

Then paused self-charmed to silence.

’Tis winged impromptu and the occasion strange
That gives to beauty its full power and range.
The bird was nature; and his casual giving,
Us to ourselves—for what we gain from living,

40

When we possess our souls or seem to own,
Is not the peak of knowledge, but the tone
Of feeling; is not the problem solved, but just
The hope of solving opened out and thrust
A little further into the spirit air;

45

But whether there be demonstration there
We know not; no more than the growing vines
When they commission their young eager bines
To find amid the void a clinging-spot
Know whether it be really there or not.

50


The bird is silent in the groves that grow
Around the past; still the reflections are
That fluttered from his song, and long ago
The tranquil evening ended with a star.
Nothing of all remains but pure romance,

55

A magic space wherein the mind can dwell,
Above the touch of tedium or of chance
Where fragile thoughts are irrefrangible.
Still the young Time is guardian of that space, [Page 123]
Trembling with unstained beauty through and through,

60

Where shoots of memory radiate and enlace
Bright as the sun-point in a globe of dew;
Until old Time sables the crystal door,
We may re-enter there,—once more, once more.

 


TO A CANADIAN LAD KILLED IN THE WAR


O NOBLE youth that held our honour in keeping,
And bore it sacred through the battle flame,
How shall we give full measure of acclaim
To they sharp labour, thy immortal reaping?
For though we sowed with doubtful hands, half sleeping,

5

Thou in thy vivid pride hast reaped a nation,
And brought it in with shouts and exultation,
With drums and trumpets, with flags flashing and leaping.

Let us bring pungent wreaths of balsam, and tender
Tendrils of wild-flowers, lovelier for thy daring,

10

And deck a sylvan shrine, where the maple parts
The moonlight, with lilac bloom, and the splendour
Of suns unwearied; all unwithered, wearing
Thy valor stainless in our heart of hearts. [Page 124]

 


LEAVES


THE great elms hold
Aloft their clouds of early autumn gold,
Compressed of summer-sunshine and so treasured,
Till now like alms doled out and slowly measured
To the starved earth.  The oak-leaves are tenacious

5

And cling close to the oak-trees, contumacious
Of all the laws of winter and his rights.
You’ll find them there on moonlit winter nights,
Above their sparkling shadows on the snow.
Of finer parchment are beech-leaves; they glow

10

In spectral wraiths, and rustle, rustle, rustle
In the frost wind, even above the bustle
Of the blown snow that streams across the crust
Of brighter silver like a silver dust.
The sulphur-coloured poplars burn and quiver,

15

Each leaf contributes its ancestral shiver
To the illusion of a flaming cone,
At the black core the stems show cool as stone,
That soon will brave it frigid and unstoled,
Each standing in his round of fallen gold.

20

The sumachs vanished early, in a passion,
Squandering their colour in a prodigal fashion,
They’ve left us cones of faded purple fire,
Sharp as mementoes of destroyed desire.
The ash trees have a little leaf and so

25

They pass quiescently and make no show
In exodus, as mourning for past laches,
They lie about in heaps of dust and ashes.
Not so the mountain ashes, the leaves perish
Unthought of, the tough twigs still hold and cherish [Page 125]

30

The berries in dense clusters of dark coral,
Which the pine grosbeaks share without a quarrel
In the clear, blustery days of early March.
The leaves of bass-woods seem to curl and parch;
The trees are rounded like a bee-hive dome,

35

The leaves dry up as pale as honeycomb,
As if those robbers, the inveterate bees,
Murmured their colour-secret to the trees;
So when they die the cunning leaves contrive
To simulate the hoard within the hive.

40

But when the maple-leaves are touched with frost,
All our similitudes are dwarfed or lost;
We do not think of single leaf or tree,
No more than of water when we think of the sea;
We only know the hills are hung with garlands,

45

And in a happy trance we dream there are lands
As calm with beauty as this painted scene,
Calm with perpetual beauty; this demesne
We wander in awhile and deeply muse
On past deeds and on future shadows, and choose

50

Out of the lives we lived only those things
That left no thirst, no ardours and no stings,
Out of the life to come the dreams that chime
Consistent with imaginary time.
But, while we muse, there falls a fairy jar

55

That subtly tells us where we really are;
There is a stir within the loveliness,
A lessening in the colour, a faint stress
Of grey, a silver thinning of the air,
And ere our painted vision is nowhere,

60

Fearing a coming change we cannot brook,
We raise our wistful eyes for one last look. [Page 126]

 


THE WOOD-SPRING TO THE POET


DAWN-COOL, dew-cool
Gleams the surface of my pool
Bird haunted, fern enchanted,
Where but tempered spirits rule;
Stars do not trace their mystic lines

5

In my confines;
I take a double night within my breast
A night of darkened heavens, a night of leaves,
And in the two-fold dark I hear the owl
Puff at his velvet horn

10

And the wolves howl.
Even daylight comes with a touch of gold
Not overbold,
And shows dwarf-cornel and the twin-flowers,
Below the balsam bowers,

15

Their tints enameled in my dew-drop shield.
Too small even for a thirsty fawn
To quench upon,
I hold my crystal at one level
There where you see the liquid bevel

20

Break in silver and go free
Singing to its destiny.

Give, Poet, give!
Thus only shalt thou live.
Give! for ’tis thy joyous doom

25

To charm, to comfort, to illume.

Speak to the maiden and the child
With accents deep and mild, [Page 127]
Tell them of the world so wide
In words of wonder and pure pride,

30

Touched with the rapture of surprise
That dwells in a child angel’s eyes,
Awed with the strangeness of new-birth,
When the flaming seraph sent
To lead him into Paradise,

35

Calls his name with the mother’s voice
He has just ceased to hear on earth.
Give to the youth his heart’s content,
But power with prudence blent,
Thicken his sinews with love,

40

With courage his heart prove,
Till over his spirit shall roll
The vast wave of control.
In the cages and dens of strife,
Where men draw breath

45

Thick with a curse at the dear thing called life,
Give them courage to bear,
Strength to aspire and dare;
Give them hopes rooted in stone,
That the loveliest flowers take on,

50

Bind on their brows with a gesture free
The palm green bays of liberty.

Give to the mothers of men
The knowledge of joy in pain,
Give them the sense of reward

55

That grew in the breast of the Lord
On the dawn of the seventh morn;
For ’tis they who re-create the world
Whenever a child is born. [Page 128]

Give, Poet, give!

60

Give them songs that charm and fill
The soul with an alluring pleasure,
Prelusive to a deeper thrill,
A richer tone, a fuller measure;
Like voices, veiled with hidden treasure,

65

Of angels on a windy morning,
That first far off, then all together,
Come with a glorious clarion calling;
And when they swoon beneath the spell
Recapture them to hear the echoes

70

Falling—falling—falling.

To those stoned for the truth
Give truth;
Give manna for the mourner’s mouth
Sovereign as air;

75

For his heart’s drouth
A prayer.
Give to dead souls that mock at life
Aweary of their cankered hearts,
Weary of sleep and weary of strife,

80

Weary of markets and of arts,—
Helve them a song of life,
Two-edged with joyous life,
Tempered trusty with life,
Proud pointed with wild life,

85

Plunge it as lightning plunges,
Stab them to life!

Give to those who grieve in secret,
Those who bear the sorrows of earth,
The deep unappeasable longings [Page 129]

90

Which beset them with throngings and throngings,
(As, on a windless night,
Through the fold of a dark mantle furled,
Gleams on our world, world after unknown world)
Give them peace,

95

Wide as the veil that hides God’s face,
The pure plenitude of space,
In which our universe is but a glittering crease,—
Give them such peace.

Give, Poet, give!

100

Thus only shalt thou live:
Give as we give who are hidden
In myriad dimples of rock and fern;
Give as we give unbidden
To tarn and rillet and burn,

105

Where the lake dreams,
Where the fall is hurled,
Striving to sweeten
The oceans of the world.

Should my song for a moment cease,

110

Silence fall in the woodland peace;
Should I willfully check the flow
Bubbling and dancing up from below;
Say to my heart be still—be still,
Let the murmur die with the rill;

115

Then should the glittering, grey sea-things
Sigh as they wallow the under springs;
Where the deep brine-pools used to lie
Deserts vast would stare at the sky,
And even thy rich heart

120

(O Poet, Poet!)
Even thy rich heart run dry. [Page 130]

 


MEDITATION AT PERUGIA


THE sunset colours mingle in the sky,
     And over all the Umbrian valleys flow;
     Trevi is touched with wonder, and the glow
Finds high Perugia crimson with renown;
     Spello is bright;

5

And, ah! St. Francis, thy deep-treasured town,
     Enshrined Assisi, fully fronts the light.

This valley knew thee many a year ago;
     Thy shrine was built by simpleness of heart;
     And from the wound called life thou drew’st the smart:

10

Unquiet kings came to thee and the sad poor—
     Thou gavest them peace;
Far as the Sultan and the Iberian shore
     Thy faith and abnegation gave release.

Deeper our faith, but not so sweet as thine;

15

     Wider our view, but not so sanely sure;
     For we are troubled by the witching lure
Of Science, with her lightning on the mist;
     Science that clears,
Yet never quite discloses what she wist,

20

     And leaves us half with doubts and half with fears.

We act her dreams that shadow forth the truth,
     That somehow here the very nerves of God
     Thrill the old fires, the rocks, the primal sod;
We throw our speech upon the open air,

25

     And it is caught
Far down the world, to sing and murmur there;
     Our common words are with deep wonder fraught. [Page 131]

Shall not the subtle spirit of man contrive
     To charm the tremulous ether of the soul,

30

     Wherein it breathes?—until, from pole to pole,
Those who are kin shall speak, as face to face,
     From star to star,
Even from earth to the most secret place,
     Where God and the supreme archangels are.

35


Shall we not prove, what thou hast faintly taught,
     That all the powers of earth and air are one,
     That one deep law persists from mole to sun?
Shall we not search the heart of God and find
     That law empearled,

40

Until all things that are in matter and mind
     Throb with the secret that began the world?

Yea, we have journeyed since thou trod’st the road,
     Yet still we keep the foreappointed quest;
     While the last sunset smoulders in the West,

45

Still the great faith with the undying hope
     Upsprings and flows,
While dim Assisi fades on the wide slope
     And the deep Umbrian valleys fill with rose. [Page 132]

 


THE BUILDER


WHEN the deep cunning architect
Had the great minster planned,
They worked in faith for twice two hundred years
And reared the building grand;
War came and famine and they did not falter,

5

But held his line,
And filled the space divine
With carvings meet for the soul’s eye;
And not alone the chantry and thereby
The snowy altar,

10

But in every part
They carved the minster after his own heart,
And made the humblest places fair,
Even the dimmest cloister-way and stair,
With vineyard tendrils,

15

With ocean-seeming shells,
With filmy weeds from sea,
With bell-flowers delicate and bells,
All done minute with excellent tracery.

Coe, O my soul,

20

And let me build thee like the minster fair,
Deep based and large as air,
And full of hidden graces wrought
In faith and infinite thought,
Till all thy dimmest ways,

25

Shall gleam with little vines and fruits of praise.
So that one day
The consummate Architect [Page 133]
Who planned the souls that we are set to build,
May pause and say:

30

How curiously wrought is this!
The builder followed well My chart
And worked for Me, not for the world’s wild heart:
Here are the outward virtues, true!
But see how all the inner parts are filled

35

With singular bliss:
Set it aside
I shall come here again at eventide.

 


LIFE AND DEATH


I THOUGHT of death beside the lonely sea,
That went beyond the limit of my sight,
Seeming the image of his mastery,
The semblance of his huge and gloomy might.

But firm beneath the sea went the great earth,

5

With sober bulk and adamantine hold,
The water but a mantle for her girth,
That played about her splendour fold on fold.

And life seemed like this dear familiar shore,
That stretched from the wet sands’ last wavy crease,

10

Beneath the sea’s remote and sombre roar,
To inland stillness and the wilds of peace.

Death seems triumphant only here and there;
Life is the sovereign presence everywhere. [Page 134]

 


AN IMPROMPTU


HERE in the pungent gloom
Where the tamarac roses glow
And the balsam burns its perfume,
A vireo turns his slow
Cadence, as if he gloated

5

Over the last phrase he floated;
Each one he moulds and mellows
Matching it with its fellows:
So have you noted
How the oboe croons,

10

The canary-throated,
In the gloom of the violoncellos
And bassoons.

But afar in the thickset forest
I hear a sound go free,

15

Crashing the stately neighbours
The pine and the cedar tree,
Horns and harps and tabors,
Drumming and harping and horning
In savage minstrelsy—

20

It wakes in my soul a warning
Of the wind of destiny. [Page 135]

My life is soaring and swinging
In triple walls of quiet,
In my heart there is rippling and ringing

25

A song with melodious riot,
When a fateful thing comes night it
A hush falls, and then
I hear in the thickset world
The wind of destiny hurled

30

On the lives of men.

 


OTTAWA


CITY about whose brow the north winds blow,
     Girdled with woods and shod with river foam,
     Called by a name as old as Troy or Rome,
Be great as they, but pure as thine own snow;
Rather flash up amid the auroral glow,

5

     The Lamia city of the northern star,
     Than be so hard with craft or wild with war,
Peopled with deeds remembered for their woe.

Thou art too bright for guile, too young for tears,
     And thou wilt live to be too strong for Time;

10

          For he may mock thee with his furrowed frowns,
But thou wilt grow in calm throughout the years,
     Cinctured with peace and crowned with power sublime,
          The maiden queen of all the towered towns. [Page 136]

 


QUESTION AND ANSWER


“O SOUL IF THOU WOULD’ST BE FREE, LOVE THE LOVE THAT SHUTS
        THEE IN.”
Jalal’ud-Din-Rumi.        


WARRING Soul, beset with foes,
             Struggling with the spears of wrath;
Where thy easiest journey goes,
             Fighting lions in the path;
Ah the blows and counter blows!

5

             Frantic with the noise and din!
Warring Soul, would’st thou be free?
             Love the love that shuts thee in.

Sorrowing Soul, dissolved with tears,
             Whom the tides of anguish toss,

10

Wounded with a thousand fears
             Sprung from loneliness and loss,
Fearing all the coming years
             Are to grief and pain akin.
Sorrowing Soul, would’st thou be free?

15

             Love the love that shuts thee in.

Laughing Soul, with delicate lutes,
             Paying all thy dearest debt,
Dancing to the purling flutes,
             Rhythmed by the castanet;

20

Nothing seen but flowers and fruits,
             Where the sword of frost has been,
Laughing Soul, would’st thou be free?
             Love the love that shuts thee in. [Page 137]

Brooding Soul, that looks on fate,

25

             On past times, on times to be;
Thinking how importunate
             Is the rule of destiny;
Careless to be early or late;
             Irresolute to lose or win;

30

Brooding Soul, would’st thou be free?
             Love the love that shuts thee in.

 


MARCH


NOW swoops the wind from every coign and crest;
Like filaments of silver, ripped and spun,
The snow reels off the drift-ridge in sun;
And smoke clouds are torn across the west,
Clouds that would snow if they had time to rest;

5

The sparrows brangle and the icicles clash;
The grosbeaks search for berries in the ash;
The shore-lark tinkles when he plans his nest.

Now in the steaming woods the maples drip,
And plunging in with the last load of sap,

10

Beyond the branches through a starry gap,
The driver sees the frail aurora flow,
And round the sinking Pleiads bend and blow;
A rosy banner and a silver ship. [Page 138]



THE WOOD PEEWEE


HE comes in Springtime with the breeze
     That shakes the flowering maples,
He builds his nest in greening trees
     Where shower and sunshine dapples;
When all the woods are tranced and still,

5

     Amid the virgin leaves
His pensive note he sounds at will,
     He grieves.

At dawning when the cool air floats,
     When dove-wing tints are streaming,

10

He, earliest of the early throats,
     Begins his song adreaming;
While round his nest still clings the night,
     He pipes in wistful flushes,
But when the wind lets in the light,

15

     He hushes.

Yet is his heart with joyance filled
     And not with brooding sadness;
If he might utter as he willed
     His strain would mount in gladness;

20

It meaneth joy in simple trust,
     Though pensively it rings;
Not as he would but as he must
     He sings. [Page 139]

 


LIFE AND A SOUL


LET it pass like a breath,
Said the soul,
Let it pass like a breath:
What I am I control:
The world is not anything

5

But a pebble hurled from a sling,
The soul saith
Let it pass like a breath,

For love is naught,
Said the soul,

10

Love is naught;
Life is a vacant scroll;
The past but seems;
The future is sought
As a drug to charm dreams;

15

Death is a vaunt—Great Death!
The soul saith.

Then said the Lord,
Let it pass like a breath:
The angel lifted the sword

20

Of two-edged death,
And there drifted out with a sigh
From the life it had never lived
The soul that can never die,
To wander for aye:

25

For Life is the first great prize,
The soul that mocks is not wise,
The Lord God saith,
Let it pass like a breath. [Page 140]

 


LINES IN MEMORY OF EDMUND MORRIS


DEAR MORRIS—here is your letter—
Can my answer reach you now?
Fate has left me your debtor,
You will remember how;
For I went away to Nantucket,

5

And you to the Isle of Orleans,
And when I was dawdling and dreaming
Over the ways and means
Of answering, the power was denied me,
Fate frowned and took her stand;

10

I have your unanswered letter
Here in my hand.
This—in your famous scribble,
It was ever a cryptic fist,
Cuneiform or Chaldaic

15

Meanings held in a mist.

Dear Morris, (now I’m inditing
And poring over your script)
I gather from the writing,
The coin that you had flipt,

20

Turned tails; and so you compel me
To meet you at Touchwood Hills:
Or, mayhap, you are trying to tell me
The sum of a painter’s ills:
Is that Phimister Proctor

25

Or something about a doctor?
Well, nobody knows, but Eddie,
Whatever it is I’m ready. [Page 141]
For our friendship was always fortunate
In its greetings and adieux,

30

Nothing flat or importunate,
Nothing of the misuse
That comes of the constant grinding
Of one mind on another.
So memory has nothing to smother,

35

But only a few things captured
On the wing, as it were, and enraptured.
Yes, Morris, I am inditing—
Answering at last it seems,
How can you read the writing

40

In the vacancy of dreams?

I would have you look over my shoulder
Ere the long, dark year is colder,
And mark that as memory grows older,
The brighter it pulses and gleams.

45

And if I should try to render
The tissues of fugitive splendour
That fled down the wind of living,
Will they read it some day in the future,
And be conscious of an awareness

50

In our old lives, and the bareness
Of theirs, with the newest passions
In the last fad of the fashions?


•          •          •          •         •


How often have we risen without daylight
When the day star was hidden in the mist,

55

When the dragon-fly was heavy with dew and sleep,
And viewed the miracle pre-eminent, matchless, [Page 142]
The prelusive light that quickens the morning.
O crystal dawn, how shall we distill your virginal freshness
When you steal upon a land that man has not sullied with his intrusion,

60

When the aboriginal shy dwellers in the broad solitudes
Are asleep in their innumerable dens and night haunts
Amid the dry ferns, in the tender nests
Pressed into shape by the breasts of the Mother birds?

How shall we simulate the thrill of announcement

65

When lake after lake lingering in the starlight
Turn their faces towards you,
And are caressed with the salutation of colour?
How shall we transmit in tendril-like images,
The tenuous tremor in the tissues of ether,

70

Before the round of colour buds like the dome of a shrine,
The preconscious moment when love has fluttered in the bosom,
Before it begins to ache?

How often have we seen the even
Melt into the liquidity of twilight,

75

With passages of Titian splendour,
Pellucid preludes, exquisitely tender,
Where vanish and revive, thro’ veils of the ashes of roses,
The crystal forms the breathless sky discloses. [Page 143]
The new moon a slender thing,

80

In a snood of virgin light,
She seemed all shy on venturing
Into the vast night.

Her own land and folk were afar,
She must have gone astray,

85

But the gods had given a silver star,
To be with her on the way.    


•          •          •          •         •


I can feel the wind on the prairie
And see the bunch-grass wave,
And the sunlights ripple and vary

90

The hill with Crowfoot’s grave,
Where he “pitched off” for the last time
In sight of the Blackfoot Crossing,
Where in the sun for a pastime
You marked the site of his tepee

95

With a circle of stones.  Old Napiw
Gave you credit for that day.
And well I recall the weirdness
Of that evening at Qu’Appelle,
In the wigwam with old Sakimay,

100

The keen, acrid smell,
As the kinnikinick was burning;
The planets outside were turning,
And the little splints of poplar
Flared with a thin, gold flame.

105

He showed us his painted robe
Where in primitive pigments
He had drawn his feats and his forays,
And told us the legend [Page 144]
Of the man without a name,

110

The hated Blackfoot,
How he lured the warriors,
The young men, to the foray
And they never returned.
Only their ghosts

115

Goaded by the Blackfoot
Mounted on stallions:
In the night time
He drove the stallions
Reeking into the camp;

120

The women gasped and whispered,
The children cowered and crept,
And the old men shuddered
Where they slept.
When Sakimay looked forth

125

He saw the Blackfoot,
And the ghosts of the warriors,
And the black stallions
Covered by the night wind
As by a mantle.

130

•          •          •          •         •


I remember well a day,
When the sunlight had free play,
When you worked in happy stress,
While grave Ne-Pah-Pee-Ness
Sat for his portrait there,

135

In his beaded coat and his bare
Head, with his mottled fan
Of hawk’s feathers, A Man!
Ah Morris, those were the times [Page 145]
When you sang your inconsequent rhymes

140

Sprung from a careless fountain:

“He met her on the mountain,
He gave her a horn to blow,
And the very last words he said to her
Were, ‘Go ’long, Eliza, go.’”

145


Foolish,—but life was all,
And under the skilful fingers
Contours came at your call—
Art grows and time lingers;—
But now the song has a change

150

Into something wistful and strange.
And one asks with a touch of ruth
What became of the youth
And where did Eliza go?
He met her on the mountain,

155

He gave her a horn to blow,
The horn was a silver whorl
With a mouthpiece of pure pearl,
And the mountain was all one glow,
With gulfs of blue and summits of rosy snow.

160

The cadence she blew on the silver horn
Was the meaning of life in one phrase caught,
And as soon as the magic notes were born,
She repeated them once in an afterthought.
They heard in the crystal passes,

165

The cadence, calling, calling,
And faint in the deep crevasses,
The echoes falling, falling.
They stood apart and wondered; [Page 146]
Her lips with a wound were aquiver,

170

His heart with a sword was sundered,
For life was changed forever
When he gave her the horn to blow:
But a shadow arose from the valley,
Desolate, slow and tender,

175

It hid the herdsmen’s chalet,
Where it hung in the emerald meadow,
(Was death driving the shadow?)
It quenched the tranquil splendour
Of the colour of life on the glow-peaks,

180

Till at the end of the even,
The last shell-tint on the snow-peaks
Had passed away from the heaven.
And yet, when it passed, victorious,
The stars came out on the mountains,

185

And the torrents gusty and glorious,
Clamoured in a thousand fountains,
And even far down in the valley,
A light re-discovered the chalet.
The scene that was veiled had a meaning,

190

So deep that none might know;
Was it here in the morn on the mountain,
That he gave her the horn to blow?


•          •          •          •         •


Tears are the crushed essence of this world,
The wine of life, and he who treads the press

195

Is lofty with imperious disregard
Of the burst grapes, the red tears and the murk.
But nay! that is a thought of the old poets,
Who sullied life with the passional bitterness [Page 147]
Of their world-weary hearts.  We of the sunrise,

200

Joined in the breast of God, feel deep the power
That urges all things onward, not to an end,
But in an endless flow, mounting and mounting,
Claiming not overmuch for human life,
Sharing with our brothers of nerve and leaf

205

The urgence of the one creative breath,—
All in the dim twilight—say of morning,
Where the florescence of the light and dew
Haloes and hallows with a crown adorning
The brows of life with love; herein the clue,

210

The love of life—yea, and the peerless love
Of things not seen, that leads the least of things
To cherish the green sprout, the hardening seed;
Here leans all nature with vast Mother-love,
Above the cradled future with a smile.

215

Why are there tears for failure, or sighs for weakness,
While life’s rhythm beats on?  Where is the rule
To measure the distance we have circled and clomb?
Catch up the sands of the sea and count and count
The failures hidden in our sum of conquest.

220

Persistence is the master of this life;
The master of these little lives of ours;
To the end—effort—even beyond the end.


•          •          •          •         •


Here, Morris, on the plains that we have loved,
Think of the death of Akoose, fleet of foot,

225

Who, in his prime, a herd of antelope
From sunrise, without rest, a hundred miles
Drove through rank prairie, loping like a wolf,
Tired them and slew them, ere the sun went down. [Page 148]
Akoose, in his old age, blind from the smoke

230

Of tepees and the sharp snow light, alone
With his great-grandchildren, withered and spent,
Crept in the warm sun along a rope
Stretched for his guidance.  Once when sharp autumn
Made membranes of thin ice upon the sloughs,

235

He caught a pony on a quick return
Of prowess and, all his instincts cleared and quickened,
He mounted, sensed the north and bore away
To the Last Mountain Lake where in his youth
He shot the sand-hill-cranes with his flint arrows.

240

And for these hours in all the varied pomp
Of pagan fancy and free dreams of foray
And crude adventure, he ranged on entranced,
Until the sun blazed level with the prairie,
Then paused, faltered and slid from off his pony.

245

In a little bluff of poplars, hid in the bracken,
He lay down; the populace of leaves
In the lithe poplars whispered together and trembled,
Fluttered before a sunset of gold smoke,
With interspaces, green as sea water,

250

And calm as the deep water of the sea.

There Akoose lay, silent amid the bracken,
Gathered at last with the Algonquin Chieftains.
Then the tenebrous sunset was blown out,
And all the smoky gold turned into cloud wrack.

255

Akoose slept forever amid the poplars,
Swathed by the wind from the far-off Red Deer
Where dinosaurs sleep, clamped in their rocky tombs.
Who shall count the time that lies between [Page 149]
The sleep of Akoose and the dinosaurs?

260

Innumerable time, that yet is like the breath
Of the long wind that creeps upon the prairie
And dies away with the shadows at sundown.


•          •          •          •         •


What we may think, who brood upon the theme,
Is, when the old world, tired of spinning, has fallen

265

Asleep, and all the forms, that carried the fire
Of life, are cold upon her marble heart—
Like ashes on the altar—just as she stops,
That something will escape of soul or essence,—
The sum of life, to kindle otherwhere:

270

Just as the fruit of a high sunny garden,
Grown mellow with autumnal sun and rain,
Shrivelled with ripeness, splits to the rich heart,
And looses a gold kernel to the mould,
So the old world, hanging long in the sun,

275

And deep enriched with effort and with love,
Shall, in the motions of maturity,
Wither and part, and the kernel of it all
Escape, a lovely wraith of spirit, to latitudes
Where the appearance, throated like a bird,

280

Winged with fire and bodied all with passion,
Shall flame with presage, not of tears, but joy. [Page 150]

 


ODE FOR THE KEATS CENTENARY

February 23, 1921.

Read at Hart House Theatre before the University of Toronto.


THE Muse is stern unto her favoured sons,
Giving to some the keys of all the joy
Of the green earth, but holding even that joy
Back from their life;
Bidding them feed on hope,

5

A plant of bitter growth,
Deep-rooted in the past;
Truth, ’tis a doubtful art
To make Hope sweeten
Time as it flows;

10

For no man knows
Until the very last,
Whether it be a sovereign herb that he has eaten,
Or his own heart.

O stern, implacable Muse,

15

Giving to Keats so richly dowered,
Only the thought that he should be
Among the English poets after death;
Letting him fade with that expectancy,
All powerless to unfold the future!

20

What boots it that our age has snatched him free
From thy too harsh embrace,
Has given his fame the certainty
Of comradeship with Shakespeare’s?
He lies alone

25

Beneath the frown of the old Roman stone [Page 151]
And the cold Roman violets;
And not our wildest incantation
Of his most sacred lines,
Nor all the praise that sets

30

Towards his pale grave,
Like oceans towards the moon,
Will move the Shadow with the pensive brow
To break his dream,
And give unto him now

35

One word!—

When the young master reasoned
That our puissant England
Reared her great poets by neglect,
Trampling them down in the by-paths of Life

40

And fostering them with glory after death,
Did any flame of triumph from his own fame
Fall swift upon his mind; the glow
Cast back upon the bleak and aching air
Blown round his days—?

45

Happily so!
But he, whose soul was mighty as the soul
Of Milton, who held the vision of the world
As an irradiant orb self-filled with light,
Who schooled his heart with passionate control

50

To compass knowledge, to unravel the dense
Web of this tangled life, he would weigh slight
As thistledown blown from his most fairy fancy
That pale self-glory, against the mystery,
The wonder of the various world, the power

55

Of “seeing great things in loneliness.” [Page 152]

Where bloodroot in the clearing dwells
Along the edge of snow;
Where, trembling all their trailing bells,
The sensitive twinflowers blow;

60


Where, searching through the ferny breaks,
The moose-fawns find the springs;
Where the loon laughs and diving takes
Her young beneath her wings;

Where flash the fields of arctic moss

65

With myriad golden light;
Where no dream-shadows ever cross
The lidless eyes of night;

Where, cleaving a mountain storm, the proud
Eagles, the clear sky won,

70

Mount the thin air between the loud
Slow thunder and the sun;

Where, to the high tarn tranced and still
No eye has ever seen,
Comes the first star its flame to chill

75

In the cool deeps of green;—
Spirit of Keats, unfurl thy wings,
Far from the toil and press,
Teach us by these pure-hearted things,
Beauty in loneliness.

80


Where, in the realm of thought, dwell those
Who oft in pain and penury
Work in the void,
Searching the infinite dark between the stars, [Page 153]
The infinite little of the atom,

85

Gathering the tears and terrors of this life,
Distilling them to a medicine for the soul;
(And hated for their thought
Die for it calmly;
For not their fears,

90

Nor the cold scorn of men,
Fright them who hold to truth:)
They brood alone in the intense serene
Air of their passion,
Until on some chill dawn

95

Breaks the immortal form foreshadowed in their dream,
And the distracted world and men
Are no more what they were.
Spirit of Keats, unfurl thy deathless wings,
Far from the wayward toil, the vain excess,

100

Teach us by such soul-haunting things
Beauty in loneliness.

The minds of men grow numb, their vision narrows,
The clogs of Empire and the dust of ages,
The lust of power that fogs the fairest pages,

105

Of the romance that eager life would write,
These war on Beauty with their spears and arrows.
But still is Beauty and of constant power;
Even in the whirl of Time’s most sordid hour,
Banished from the great highways,

110

Affrighted by the tramp of insolent feet,
She hangs her garlands in the by-ways;
Lissome and sweet
Bending her head to hearken and learn [Page 154]
Melody shadowed with melody,

115

Softer than shadow of sea-fern,
In the green-shadowed sea:
Then, nourished by quietude,
And if the world’s mood
Change, she may return

120

Even lovelier than before.—

The white reflection in the mountain lake
Falls from the white stream
Silent in the high distance;
The mirrored mountains guard

125

The profile of the goddess of the height,
Floating in water with a curve of crystal light;
When the air, envious of the loveliness,
Rushes downward to surprise,
Confusion plays in the contact,

130

The picture is overdrawn
With ardent ripples,
But when the breeze, warned of intrusion,
Draws breathless upward in flight,
The vision reassembles in tranquillity,

135

Reforming with a gesture of delight,
Reborn with the rebirth of calm.

Spirit of Keats, lend us thy voice,
Breaking like surge in some enchanted cave
On a dream-sea-coast,

140

To summon Beauty to her desolate world. [Page 155]

For Beauty has taken refuge from our life
That grew too loud and wounding;
Beauty withdraws beyond the bitter strife,
Beauty is gone, (Oh where?)

145

To dwell within a precinct of pure air
Where moments turn to months of solitude;
To live on roots of fern and tips of fern,
On tender berries flushed with the earth’s blood.
Beauty shall stain her feet with moss

150

And dye her cheek with deep nut-juices,
Laving her hands in the pure sluices
Where rainbows are dissolved.
Beauty shall view herself in pools of amber sheen
Dappled with peacock-tints from the green screen

155

That mingles liquid light with liquid shadow.
Beauty shall breathe the fairy hush
With the chill orchids in their cells of shade,
And hear the invocation of the thrush
That calls the stars into their heaven,

160

And after even
Beauty shall take the night into her soul.
When the thrill voice goes crying through the wood,
(Oh, Beauty, Beauty!)
Troubling the solitude

165

With echoes from the lonely world,
Beauty will tremble like a cloistered thing
That hears temptation in the outlands singing,
Will steel her dedicated heart and breathe
Into her inner ear to firm her vow:—

170

“Let me restore the soul that ye have marred.
O mortals, cry no more on Beauty, [Page 156]
Leave me alone, lone mortals,
Until my shaken soul comes to its own,
Lone mortals, leave me alone!”

175

(Oh Beauty, Beauty, Beauty!)
All the dim wood is silent as a dream
That dreams of silence.

 


DIRGE FOR A VIOLET


HERE was a happy flower,
Born in sun and shower,
In the meadow;
Sorrow was her dower,
And shadow.

5


Bid the gentle mole
Dig his deepest hole,
For her rest;
Sleep has charmed her soul,
Sleep is best.

10


Bid the vervain spire
Light the funeral fire,
And the yarrow
Build a shady choir,
For the sparrow.

15


Bid him chirp and cry,
“Everything must die,
She is dead,”
Now in exequy,
All is said. [Page 157]

20

 


ON THE DEATH OF CLAUDE DEBUSSY

March 26th, 1918


THEN Death who was watching
Raised him more tenderly
Than the forms of other men,
And wrapped him in her hair,
Her mouth drooped to his mouth,

5

And they became one
Forever—

Then arose around them
A confusion of light and sound,
The complaint of the wind

10

In the plane-trees,
The far away pulse of a horn,
Ripples of fairy colour,
Rhythms of Spain,
The overtones of cymbals,

15

The sobs of tormented souls,
Crys of delight and their echoes,
The crystal stroke of goat-bells,
The tremor of temple gongs,
The robes of Melisande,

20

Trailing vague glories;
Fauns’ eyes in the vapour,
Flutes of Dionysus,
Haunting his ruined fane,
Veils of rain, quenching the tulip gardens,

25

Sea-light at the roots of islands,
The Spirit of Puck [Page 158]
With the ghost of a humming-bird,
The chords of boys’ voices,
The open organ tones;

30

And under all the pedal-point
Of the deep-based ocean,
Hidden under the mists,
Chanting, infinitely remote,
At the foot of enchanted cliffs.

35

Then with a turn of illumination,
An enharmonic change of vision,
Death and Debussy
Become France and her heroes,
As if all her sacred heroes,

40

Were in that one form,
Clasped in the bosom of France,
Enfolded with her ideals and inspirations.

Then the group loses outline,
Firmness dissolves,

45

And surrounded by light and sound,
Shadows, they drift away
Into the shadow. [Page 159]

 


AT WILLIAM MACLENNAN’S GRAVE


HERE where the cypress tall
Shadows the stucco wall,
        Bronze and deep,
Where the chrysanthemums blow,
And the roses—blood and snow—

5

        He lies asleep.

Florence dreameth afar;
Memories of foray and war,
        Murmur still;
The Certosa crowns with a cold

10

Cloud of snow and gold
        The olive hill.

What has he now for the streams
Born sweet and deep with dreams
        From the cedar meres?

15

Only the Arno’s flow,
Turbid, and weary, and slow
        With wrath and tears.

What has he now for the song
Of the boatmen, joyous and long,

20

        Where the rapids shine?
Only the sound of toil,
Where the peasants press the soil
        For the oil and wine.

Spirit-fellow in sooth

25

With bold La Salle and Duluth,
        And La Vérandrye,— [Page 160]
Nothing he has but rest,
Deep in his cypress nest
        With memory.

30


Hearts of steel and of fire,
Why do ye love and aspire,
        When follows
Death—all your passionate deeds,
Garnered with rust and with weeds

35

        In the hollows?

“God that hardened the steel,
Bade the flame leap and reel,
        Gave us unrest;
We act in the dusk afar,

40

In a star beyond your star,
        His behest.

“We leave you dreams and names
Still we are iron and flames,
        Biting and bright;

45

Into some virgin world,
Champions, we are hurled,
        Of venture and fight.”

Here where the shadows fall,
From the cypress by the wall,

50

        Where the roses are—
Here is a dream and a name,
There, like a rose of flame,
        Rises—a star. [Page 161]

 


BY THE WILLOW SPRING


COME hither, Care, and look on this fair place,
But leave your gossip and your puckered face
Beyond that flowering carrot in the glow,
Where the red poppies in the orchard blow,
And come with gentle feet; the last thing there

5

Was a white butterfly upon the air,
And even now a thrush was in the grass,
To feel the sovereign water slowly pass.
This pool is quiet as oblivion,
Hidden securely from the flooding sun;

10

Its crystal placid surface here receives
The wan grey under light of the willow leaves;
And shy things brood about the grass unheard;
Only in sunny distance sings the bird.
O Time long dead, O days reclaimed and done,

15

Thou broughtest joy and tears to every one,
And here by this deep pool thou wast not slow,
To deal a maiden all her tender woe;
Be kindlier to her now that she is dead,
Let her charmed spirit visit this well-head

20

More often, for at eve in honey-time,
Drifting in silence from her ghostly clime,
She haunts the pool about the willows pale:
Be gentle, for my feeling art may fail,
I’ll freshen sorrow and retell her tale.

25


She was a fragile daughter of the earth,
And touched with faery from her fatal birth;
For many summers she was hardly shy, [Page 162]
Not clouded with her hovering destiny,
But only wild as any woodland thing,

30

That comes at even to a trodden spring;
And scarce she seemed of any settled mood,
That lights the peaceful hills of maidenhood,
But shifted strangely on the whimsy air,
Not quiet nor contented anywhere.

35

She gathered sunshine in an earthen cruse,
And thought to keep it for her own sweet use;
Or fluttered flowers from her window high,
And wept upon them when they would not fly;
And when she found the brownish mignonette

40

Had blossomed where a little seed was set,
She planted her rag playmate in the sun,
Because she wanted yet another one;
And when she heard the enraptured sparrow sing,
She clamoured for a song from everything.

45

For many years she was as strange and free,
As a pine linnet in a cedar tree.
Her folk thought:  She is very wild and odd,
But she is good, we’ll wait and trust in God.
O love, that watched the weird and charméd child,

50

Change from her airy fancies sweet and mild,
Like a blue brook that clears a meadow spring,
And threads the barley where the bobolinks sing,
Then wimples by the roots of dusky firs,
And gathers darkness in those deeps of hers,

55

Then makes an arrowy movement through a pass,
Where rocks are crannied with the clinging grass,
Then falls, almost dissolved in silver rain,
She gathers deeply to a pool again; [Page 163]
But something wild in her new spirit lies,

60

She never can regain her limpid eyes:
O love, alas! ’twas ever so to be,
When streams set out to reach the bitter sea.
It was a time within the early spring,
Before the orchards had done blossoming,

65

Before the kinglet on his northern search,
Had ceased his timorous piping in the birch,
When streams were bright before the coming leaves
And gurgled like the swallows in the eaves,
She wandered led by fancy to this place,

70

And looked upon the water’s crystal face;
She saw—what thing of beauty or of awe
I know not, no one knoweth what she saw.
But ever after she was constant here,
As silent as her shadow in the mere,

75

Sitting upon a stone which many feet
Had grooved and trodden for the water sweet,
And leaning gravely on her slanted arm,
Her fingers buried in the gravel warm,
She gazed and gazed and did not speak or sigh,

80

As if this gazing was her destiny.
They led her nightly from the magic pool,
Before the shadows grew too deep and cool;
They thought to win her from the liquid spell,
And tried to tease the elfin maid to tell,

85

What was the charm that led her to the spring;
But all their words availed not anything.
Then gazed they on the surface of the pool
To read the reason of such subtle rule;
Their eyes were overclouded, they could see [Page 164]

90

(Who had drawn water there perpetually)
Nothing but water in a depth serene,
With a few moony stones of palish green.
They thought perchance it was her face she saw
And answered, beauty unto beauty’s law,

95

But when they showed her image in a glass,
She was not cured and nothing came to pass;
So then they left her to her own strange will,
And here she stayed when the fair pool was still.
But when the wind would hurl the heavy rain,

100

She peered out sadly from her window-pane;
And when the night set wildly close and deep,
She took her trouble down the dale of sleep:
But when the night was warm and no dew fell,
She waked and dreamed beside the starlit well.

105


Then came a change, each day some offering
She laid beside the clear soft flowing spring;
And there she found them at the break of morn,
And everything would take away forlorn;
Until beside the unconscious spring was laid

110

Each treasure held most precious by a maid.
After, she offered flowers and often set
A bowlful of the pleasant mignonette,
And starred the stones with the narcissus white,
And pansies left athinking all the night,

115

Then ruffled dewy dahlias, and at last,
When sundown told the summer-time had passed,
The stainéd asters; but from day to day,
Sadly she took the untouched flowers away.
With autumn and the sounding harvest flute, [Page 165]

120

She brought her timid god the heavy fruit;
But found it still and cool at early dawn,
Beaded with dew upon the crispy lawn.
At last one eve she placed an apple here,
Smooth as a topaz and as golden clear,

125

Scented like almonds, with a flesh like dew
And luscious-sweet as honey through and through.
She left it sadly on the sleepy lawn,
But when she came again her apple gold was gone.
Day after day for days she mutely strove,

130

Not to be separate from her placid love;
Perchance she thought that, breaking through the spell,
Her shadow-god, deep in the tranquil well,
Had taken her last gift;—no man may know;
Her fancies merged with all mute things that go

135

The poppied path, dreams and desires foredone,
The unplucked roses of oblivion.
But now she searched for words that would express
Something of all her spirit’s loneliness;
And formed a liquid jargon, full of falls

140

As weird and wild as ariel madrigals;
Our human tongue was far too harsh for this,
Or her slight spirit bore too great a bliss;
But always grew she very faint and pale,
Day after day her beauty grew more frail,

145

More mute, more eerie, more ethereal;
Her soul burned whitely in its waning shell.

Then came the winter with his frosty breath
And made the world an image of white death,
And like to death he found the charméd child; [Page 166]

150

Yet could not kill her with his bluster wild.
Only in his first days she went about,
And sadly hearkened to his hearty shout;
From windows where the wizard frost had traced
Moth-wings of rime with silver ferns inlaced,

155

She saw her pool set coldly in the drift,
Where in the autumn she had left her gift,
Capped with a cloud of silver steam or smoke,
That hovered there whether she dreamed or woke;
And often stealing from her early sleep,

160

She watched the light cloud in the midnight deep,
Waver and blow beneath the moon’s white globe,
Shivering and whispering in her chilly robe.
At last she would not look or speak at all,
And turned her large eyes to the shaded wall.

165

Now she is dead, they thought; but never so,
She died not when the winter winds did blow;
She was a spirit of the summer air,
She would not vanish at the year’s despair.

At length the merry sun grew warm and high,

170

And changed the wildwood with his alchemy;
The violet reared her bell of drooping gold,
And over her the robin chimed and trolled.
When the first slender moon of May had come,
That finds the blithe bird busy at his home,

175

They missed the spirit maiden from the room,
That now was sweet with light and spring perfume,
And called her all the echoing afternoon;
She answered not, but when the glowing moon
Went down the west with the last bird awing,

180

They found her dead beside her darling spring. [Page 167]

This is her tale, her murmurous monument
Flows softly where her fragile life was spent,
Not grooved in brass nor trenched in pallid stone,
But told by water to the reeds alone.

185


She cometh here sometimes on summer eves,
Her quiet spirit lingers in the leaves,
And while this spring flows on, and while the wands
Sway in the moonlight, while in drifting bands,
The thistledown blows gleaming in the air,

190

And dappled thrushes haunt the precinct fair,
She will return, she will return and lean
Above the crystal in the covert green,
And dream of beauty on the shadow flung
Or irised distance when the world was young.

195


Let us be gone; this is no place for tears,
Let us go slowly with the guardian years;
Let us be brave, the day is almost done,
Another setting of the pleasant sun. [Page 168]

 




IN THE COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

TO THE MEMORY OF MY FATHER


THIS is the acre of unfathomed rest,
     These stones, with weed and lichen bound, enclose
     No active grief, no uncompleted woes,
But only finished work and harboured quest,
        And balm for ills;

5

And the last gold that smote the ashen west
        Lies garnered here between the harvest hills.

This spot has never known the heat of toil,
     Save when the angel with the mighty spade
     Has turned the sod and built the house of shade;

10

But here old chance is guardian of the soil;
        Green leaf and grey,
The barrows blossom with the tangled spoil,
        And God’s own weeds are fair in God’s own way.

Sweet flowers may gather in the ferny wood:

15

     Hepaticas, the morning stars of spring;
     The bloodroots with their milder ministering,
Like planets in the lonelier solitude;
        And that white throng,
Which shakes the dingles with a starry brood,

20

        And tells the robin his forgotten song.

These flowers may rise amid the dewy fern,
     They may not root within this antique wall,
     The dead have chosen for their coronal,
No buds that flaunt of life and flare and burn;

25

        They have agreed,
To choose a beauty puritan and stern,
        The universal grass, the homely weed. [Page 169]

This is the paradise of common things,
     The scourged and trampled here find peace to grow,

30

     The frost to furrow and the wind to sow,
The mighty sun to time their blossomings;
        And now they keep
A crown reflowering on the tombs of kings,
        Who earned their triumph and have claimed their sleep.

35


Yea, each is here a prince in his own right,
     Who dwelt disguised amid the multitude,
     And when his time was come, in haughty mood,
Shook off his motley and reclaimed his might;
        His sombre throne

40

In the vast province of perpetual night,
        He holds secure, inviolate, alone.

The poor forgets that ever he was poor,
     The priest has lost his science of the truth,
     The maid her beauty, and the youth his youth,

45

The statesman has forgot his subtle lure,
        The old his age,
The sick his suffering, and the leech his cure,
        The poet his perplexed and vacant page.

These swains that tilled the uplands in the sun

50

     Have all forgot the field’s familiar face,
     And lie content within this ancient place,
Whereto when hands were tired their thought would run
        To dream of rest,
When the last furrow was turned down, and won

55

        The last harsh harvest from the earth’s patient breast.
[Page 170]

O dwellers in the valley vast and fair,
     I would that calling from your tranquil clime,
     You make a truce for me with cruel time;
For I am weary of this eager care

60

        That never dies;
I would be born into your tranquil air,
        Your deserts crowned and sovereign silences.

I would, but that the world is beautiful,
     And I am more in love with the sliding years,

65

     They have not brought me frantic joy or tears,
But only moderate state and temperate rule;
        Not to forget
This quiet beauty, not to be Time’s fool,
        I will be man a little longer yet.

70


For lo, what beauty crowns the harvest hills!—
     The buckwheat acres gleam like silver shields;
     The oats hang tarnished in the golden fields;
Between the elms the yellow wheat-land fills;
        The apples drop

75

Within the orchard, where the red tree spills,
        The fragrant fruitage over branch and prop.

The cows go lowing through the lovely vale;
     The clarion peacock warns the world of rain,
     Perched on the barn a gaudy weather-vane;

80

The farm lad holloes from the shifted rail,
        Along the grove
He beats a measure on his ringing pail,
        And sings the heart-song of his early love. [Page 171]

There is a honey scent along the air;

85

     The hermit thrush has tuned his fleeting note,
     Among the silver birches far remote
His spirit voice appeareth here and there,
        To fail and fade,
A visionary cadence falling fair,

90

        That lifts and lingers in the hollow shade.

And now a spirit in the east, unseen,
     Raises the moon above her misty eyes,
     And travels up the veiled and starless skies,
Viewing the quietude of her demesne;

95

        Stainless and slow,
I watch the lustre of her planet’s sheen,
        From burnished gold to liquid silver flow,

And now I leave the dead with you, O night;
     You wear the semblance of their fathomless state,

100

     For you we long when the day’s fire is great,
And when stern life is cruellest in his might,
        Of death we dream:
A country of dim plain and shadowy height,
        Crowned with strange stars and silences supreme:

105


Rest here, for day is hot to follow you,
     Rest here until the morning star has come,
     Until is risen aloft dawn’s rosy dome,
Based deep on buried crimson into blue,
        And morn’s desire

110

Has made the fragile cobweb drenched with dew
        A net of opals veiled with dreamy fire. [Page 172]

 


THE CLOSED DOOR


THE dew falls and the stars fall,
The sun falls in the west,
But never more
Through the closed door,
Shall the one that I loved best

5

Return to me:
A salt tear is the sea,
All earth’s air is a sigh,
But they never can mourn for me
With my heart’s cry,

10

For the one that I loved best
Who caressed me with her eyes,
And every morning came to me,
With the beauty of sunrise,
Who was health and wealth and all,

15

Who never shall answer my call,
While the sun falls in the west,
The dew falls and the stars fall. [Page 173]

 


ELIZABETH SPEAKS

(Aetat Six)


NOW every night we light the grate
And I sit up till really late;
My Father sits upon the right,
My Mother on the left, and I
Between them on an ancient chair,

5

That once belonged to my Great-Gran,
Before my Father was a man.
We sit without another light;
I really, truly never tire
Watching that space, as black as night,

10

That hangs behind the fire;
For there sometimes, you know,
The dearest, queerest little sparks,
Without a sound creep to and fro;
Sometimes they form in rings

15

Or lines that look like many things,
Like skipping ropes, or hoops, or swings:
Before you know what you’re about,
They all go out!

My Father says that they are gnomes,

20

Beyond the grate they have their homes,
In a tall, black, and windy town,
Behind a door we cannot see.
Often when it’s time for bed
The children run away instead,

25

Out through the door to see our fire,
Then their angry parents come
With every candle in the town, [Page 174]
The beadle with his lantern too,
And search and rummage up and down,

30

To catch the children as they play,
Between the rows of new-mown hay,
And bring them home;
(They must be, O, so very small,
How do they capture them at all?

35

But then they must be very dear);
When they can find no more
They blow a horn we cannot hear,
And march with the beadle at their head,
Right through the little open door,

40

Then close it tight and go to bed.

My Mother says that may be so;
(They both agree they’re gnomes, you know).
She says, she thinks that every night,
The gnomes have had a fearful fight;

45

Their valiant General has been slain,
And all the soldiers leave the camp
To dig his grave upon the plain;
They drag the General on a gun;
Every bandsman has a lamp

50

And there’s a torch for every one,
They dig his grave with bayonets
And wrap him grandly in his flag.
Then they gather in a ring,
The band plays very soft and low,

55

And all the soldiers sing.
(Of course we cannot hear, you know,)
Then some one calls “The enemy comes!” [Page 175]

They muffle up their pipes and drums;
Every soldier in a fright

60

Puts out his light.
Then hand in hand, and very still,
They clamber up the dark, dark hill
And hold their breath tight—tight.

(I’d like to know which tale is right.)

65


O! there is something I forgot!
Sometimes one little spark burns on
Long after the rest have gone.

My Father says that lamp is left
By a little crooked, crotchety man,

70

Who cannot find his wayward son;
When the horn begins to blow,
He has to drop his light and run.
Of course he limps so slow
He squeezes through the very last,

75

When he is gone the naughty scamp
Jumps up and puff! out goes the lamp.

My mother says that is the light,
Borne by the very bravest knight;
He is so very, very brave,

80

He would not leave his General’s grave.
And when the Enemy General tries
To make him tell where his General lies,
He answers boldly, “I—will—not!”
Then they shoot him on the spot,

85

And give a horrid, dreadful shout,
And then of course his light goes out. [Page 176]

I sit and think when they are through,
Which tale I like best of the two.
Sometimes I like the Father one;

90

It is such fun!
But then I love the Mother one,
That dear brave soldier and the rest:—
     Now which one do you like the best?

 


DEDICATION OF “IN THE VILLAGE OF VIGER,” 1896

TO MY DAUGHTER, ELIZABETH DUNCAN SCOTT


ROBINS and bobolinks bubbling and tinkling,
     Shore-larks alive there high in the blue,
Level in the sunlight the rye-field twinkling,
     The wind parts the cloud and a star leaps through,
Ferns at the spring-head curling cool and tender,

5

     Bloodroot in the tangle, violets by the larch,
In the dusky evening the young moon slender,
     Glowing like a crocus in the dells of March;
All a world of music, of laughter, and of lightness,
     Crushed to a diamond, rounded to a pearl,

10

Moulded to a flower bell,—cannot match the brightness
     In the darling beauty of one sweet girl. [Page 177]

 


THE LESSON


WHEN the great day is done,
That seems so long,
So full of fret and fun,
Our little girl is in her cradle laid:
She takes the soft dark-petaled flower of sleep

5

Between her fragile hands,
Striving to pluck it:
And as the dream-roots slowly part,
She is not in possession of the lands,
Where flowered her tender heart,

10

Nor in this turmoil dire of cark and strife,
Which we call life,
The which, husbanding all our art,
We will keep veiled until the latest day,
And from her wrapt away:

15

Then when the drowsy flower
Has parted from the dreamful mead,
And in her palm lies plucked indeed,
When her dear breathing steadies after sighs,
And the soft lids have clouded the blue eyes,

20

A tiny hand falls on my cheek—
Lightly and so fragrantly
As if a snow-flake could a rose-leaf be—
And in the dark touches a tear
Which has sprung clear,

25

From eyes unconscious of their own distress,
At the deep pathos of such tender helplessness.
And then she claims her sleep,
As if she knows my love and trusts it deep. [Page 178]

Dear God! to whom the bravest of us is a child,

30

When I am weary, when I cannot rest,
I have stretched out my hand into the dark,
And felt the shadow stark,
But no face brooding near,
Nor any tear

35

Compassionately wept:
I have not slept.

But now I learn my lesson from the sage,
Who burns his lore with acid on the heart;
I will not whimper when I feel the smart,

40

And for my comfort will look down, not up;
I will give ever from a brimming sky,
Not telling how or why;
I will be answered in this little child,
I will be reconciled.

45

 


ECSTASY


THE shore-lark soars to his topmost flight,
     Sings at the height where morning springs,
What though his voice be lost in the light,
     The light comes dropping from his wings.

Mount, my soul, and sing at the height

5

     Of thy clear flight in the light and the air,
Heard or unheard in the night in the light
     Sing there!  Sing there! [Page 179]

 


A LEGEND OF CHRIST’S NATIVITY


AT Bethlehem upon the hill,
     The day was done, the night was nigh,
The dusk was deep and had its will,
The stars were very small and still,
     Like unblown tapers, faint and high.

5


The noises had begun to fall,
     And quiet stole upon the place,
The howl of dogs along the wall,
Voices that from housetops call
     And answer, and the grace

10


Of some low breath of even-song
     Grew faint apace: between the rocks
In misty pastures, and along
The dim hillside with crook and thong
     The lonely shepherds watched their flocks.

15


The Inn-master within the Inn
     Called loudly out after this sort,
“Draw no more water, cease the din,
Pile the loose fodder, and begin
     To turn the mules out of the court.

20


The time has come to shut the gate,
     Make way,” he cried, and then began
To sweep and set the litter straight,
And pile the saddle-bags and freight
     Of some belated caravan. [Page 180]

25


The drivers whirled their beasts about,
     And beat them on with shoutings great;
The nosebags slipped, the feed flew out,
The water-buckets reeled, the rout
     Went jostling onward to the gate.

30


Came one unto the master then,
     Hasting to find him through the gloom,
“Give us a place to rest;” and when
He spake, the master cried again,
     “There is no room—there is no room.”

35


“But I have come from Nazareth,
     Full three days’ toil to Bethlehem”—
“What matters that,” the master saith,
“For here is hardly room for breath;
     The guests curse me for crowding them.”

40


“Hold, Sir! leave me not so, I pray”—
     He plucked him sudden by the sleeve,
“My wife is with me and doth say,
Her hour hath come, I beg you, stay,
     And make some plan for her relief.”

45


“Two hours ago you might have had
     The chamber wherein stands the loom;
But then to drive me wholly mad,
Came this great merchant from Baghdad,
     And thrust himself into the room. [Page 181]

50


“There is no other shelf to call
     A bed—But just beyond the gate,
You may find shelter in a stall,
If there be shelter left at all,
     You may be even now too late.”

55


Beyond the gate within the night,
     A figure rested on the ground,
About her all the rout took flight,
The dizzy noise, the flashing light,
     The mules were tramping all around.

60


Leaning in mute expectancy,
     Beneath a stunted sycamore,
She added darkness utterly,
To the dim light, the shrouded tree,
     By her hands held her face before.

65


And yet to mock her eye’s desire,
     The cavern into which she stared,
Was lit with disks and lines of fire;
When triple darkness did conspire,
     The secret founts of light were bared.

70


And all the wheeling fire was rife
     With haunting fears, her broken breath
Grew short with this prophetic strife;
What was for one the dawn of life,
     Would be for one the dawn of death. [Page 182]

75


Meantime the stranger with a lamp,
     Which lit the darkness, small and wan,
Searched where the mules did tramp and stamp,
Amid the litter and the damp,
     For some small place to rest upon.

80


And there against the furthest wall,
     Where the black shade was dense and deep,
He found a mean and meager stall,
But there when the weak light did fall,
     He found a little lad asleep.

85


He lifted up his childish head,
     And smiled serenely at the light,
“And have you found him, then,” he said,
“My brother who I thought was dead,
     I lost him in the crowd last night.

90


“His name is Ezra, and he is
     So tall and strong that when I try,
Standing on tiptoe for a kiss
I could not reach, except for this,
     He lifts me up so easily.

95


“I had two little doves to take
     Up to the booths”—he held his breath,
“Peace, child! and for your mother’s sake,
Yield me this place—nay, nay! awake!
     My weary wife is sick to death.” [Page 183]

100


“I will,” the little lad replied
     “I promised never to forget
My mother, years ago she died,
I will lie out on the hillside,
     And I may find dear Ezra yet.”

105


And now she drooped her weary head,
     Within that comfortless manger,
It might have been a palace bed,
With canopy of gold instead,
     So little did she know or care.

110


        Gentle Jesus, slumber mild,
            Lullaby, lullaby;
        Succored by a little child,
            Lull, lullaby.

        You of children are the king,

115

            Lullaby, lullaby;
        Sovereign to all ministering,
            Lull, lullaby.

        Grace you bring them from above,
            Lullaby, lullaby;

120

        They give promise, lisping love,
            Lull, lullaby.

And out upon the darkened hill,
     With all the quiet-pastured sheep,
Charmed by the falling of a rill,

125

Where in the pool it cadenced still,
     The little lad was fallen asleep. [Page 184]

All his young dreams were robed with power.
     And glad were all his vision folk;
He wandered on from hour to hour,

130

With Ezra, happy as a flower
     That blooms safe-shadowed by the oak.

But once before his dreams were told,
     He thought he saw within the deep
Vault of the sky a rose unfold,

135

Made all of fire and lovely gold,
     Whose petals seemed to glow and leap,

As if each dewy, crystal cell
     Were a great angel live with light,
And trembling to the coronal,

140

Merging in sheen of pearl and shell,
     With his great comrade, equal, bright,

Until the petals flashed and sprang,
     And folded to the central heart:
Music there was that showered and rang,

145

As if each angel harped and sang,
     Controlled by some celestial art.

The child saw splendour without name,
     And turned and smiled, and all the noise
Of strings and singing sank; it came

150

Faint and dream-altered, yet the same,
     Soft-tempered to his mother’s voice. [Page 185]

        Slumber, slumber, gentle child,
            Lullaby, lullaby;
        Sweet as henna, dear and mild,

155

            Lull, lullaby.

        You the first of all the race,
            Lullaby, lullaby;
        Gave your master early grace,
            Lull, lullaby.

160


        Gave a shelter for his head,
            Lullaby, lullaby;
        Took the chilly earth instead,
            Lull, lullaby.

        Now take comfort infant earth,

165

            Lullaby, lullaby;
        Jesus Christ is come to birth,
            Lull, lullaby.

        For his principality,
            Lullaby, lullaby;

170

        Children cluster at his knee,
            Lull, lullaby.

        Hail the heaven-happy age,
            Lullaby, lullaby;
        Love begins his pilgrimage,

175

            Lull, lullaby. [Page 186]

 


RAIN AND THE ROBIN


A ROBIN in the morning,
In the morning early,
Sang a song of warning,
“There’ll be rain, there’ll be rain.”
Very, very clearly

5

From the orchard
Came the gentle horning,
“There’ll be rain.”
But the hasty farmer
Cut his hay down,

10

Did not heed the charmer
From the orchard,
And the mower’s clatter
Ceased at noontide,
For with drip and spatter

15

Down came the rain.
Then the prophet robin
Hidden in the crab-tree
Railed upon the farmer,
“I told you so, I told you so.”

20

As the rain grew stronger,
And his heart grew prouder,
Notes so full and slow
Coming blither, louder,
“I told you so, I told you so,”

25

   “I told you so.” [Page 187]

 


BY A CHILD’S BED


SHE breathéd deep,
And stepped from out life’s stream
Upon the shore of sleep;
And parted from the earthly noise,
Leaving her world of toys,

5

To dwell a little in a dell of dream.

Then brooding on the love I hold so free,
My fond possessions come to be
Clouded with grief;
These fairy kisses,

10

This archness innocent,
Sting me with sorrow and disturbed content:
I think of what my portion might have been,
A dearth of blisses,
A famine of delights,

15

If I had never had what now I value most;
Till all I have seems something I have lost;
A desert underneath the garden shows,
And in a mound of cinders roots the rose.

Here then I linger by the little bed,

20

Till all my spirit’s sphere,
Grows one half brightness and the other dead,
One half all joy, the other vague alarms;
And, holding each the other half in fee,
Floats like the growing moon

25

That bears implicitly
Her lessening pearl of shadow
Clasped in the crescent silver of her arms. [Page 188]

 


THE TREE, THE BIRDS, AND THE CHILD


A BIRCH before the northern window stood
        Silvery white,
Shrouded in greens of liquid tender hue,
        All laved in light.
It seemed a naiad in a fountain caught

5

        Had charmed the spray
To blow about her naked loveliness,
        Never away.
And all the rustle of the inner shadow
        Was full of dancing,

10

Now the swift sun and now the lustrous rain
        Flashing and glancing.
Two robins searching for an empty tree
        Saw it was fair,
Liked the seclusion of an ambushed crotch

15

        And settled there.
And there a child beside the window sat
        Watching them brood
Over their eggs, with all the fluttering care
        Of parenthood.

20

She clasped her hands below her vivid face,
        Her lips apart,
As if she mothered there a little bird
        Close to her heart. [Page 189]
But then ere long, she turned and vanished

25

        Through the closed door,
No more to laugh, to love—perhaps ’twere best
        To say no more.
Then the tree died, it could not answer once
        To Spring’s desire,

30

It was cut down and split and corded up
        And burned with fire.
The birds were certain of their slender tree
        Early that Spring,
But when they strove to perch upon the limbs

35

        There was nothing.
They flew away and built in other branches
        Another nest,
Disquieted with foreign winds and shadows
        Banished and dispossessed.

40

But even now the tree, the birds, the child
        Come back again,
And live for moments in the crystal clear
        Orb of the brain;
The birds are quick, the leaves are light and laughing

45

        In profusion,
The child is radiant with a lovely motion—
        ’Tis an illusion!
But ah! the love that conjures up the vision,
        Intense and breathless,

50

Own to me as it trembles and disperses,
        The love is deathless. [Page 190]

 


MID-AUGUST


FROM the upland hidden,
     Where the hill is sunny
     Tawny like pure honey
     In the August heat,
Memories float unbidden

5

     Where the thicket series
     Fragrant with ripe berries
     And the milk-weed sweet.

Like a prayer-mat holy
     Are the patterned mosses

10

     Which the twin-flower crosses
     With her flowerless vine;
In fragile melancholy
     The pallid ghost flowers hover
     As if to guard and cover

15

     The shadow of a shrine.

Where the pine-linnet lingered
     The pale water searches,
     The roots of gleaming birches
     Draw silver from the lake;

20

The ripples, liquid-fingered,
     Plucking the root-layers,
     Fairy like lute players
     Lulling music make.

O to lie here brooding

25

     Where the pine-tree column
     Rises dark and solemn [Page 191]
     To the airy lair,
Where, the day eluding,
     Night is couched dream laden,

30

     Like a deep witch-maiden
     Hidden in her hair.

In filmy evanescence
     Wraithlike scents assemble,
     Then dissolve and tremble

35

     A little until they die;
Spirits of the florescence
     Where the bees searched and tarried
     Till the blossoms all were married
     In the days before July.

40


Light has lost its splendour,
     Light refined and sifted,
     Cool light and dream drifted
     Ventures even where,
(Seeping silver tender)

45

     In the dim recesses,
     Trembling mid her tresses,
     Hides the maiden hair.

Covered with the shy-light,
     Filling in the hushes,

50

     Slide the tawny thrushes
     Calling to their broods,
Hoarding till the twilight
     The song that made for noon-days
     Of the amorous June days

55

     Preludes and interludes. [Page 192]

The joy that I am feeling
     Is there something in it
     Unlike the warble the linnet
     Phrases and intones?

60

Or is a like thought stealing
     With a rapture fine, free
     Through the happy pine tree
     Ripening her cones?

In some high existence

65

     In another planet
     Where their poets cannot
     Know our birds and flowers,
Does the same persistence
     Give the dreams they issue

70

     Something like the tissue
     Of these dreams of ours?

O to lie athinking—
     Moods and whims!  I fancy
     Only necromancy

75

     Could the web unroll,
Only somehow linking
     Beauties that meet and mingle
     In this quiet dingle
     With the beauty of the whole. [Page 193]

80

 


MIST AND FROST


VEIL-LIKE and beautiful
Gathered the dutiful
     Mist in the night,
True to the messaging,
Dreamful and presaging

5

     Vapour and light.

Ghostly and chill it is,
Pallid and still it is,
     Sudden uprist;
What is there tragical,

10

Moving or magical,
     Hid in the mist?

Millions of essences,
Fairy-like presences
     Formless as yet;

15

Light-riven spangles,
Crystalline tangles
     Floating unset.

Frost will come shepherding
Nowise enjeoparding

20

     Frondage or flower;
Just a degree of it,
Nought can we see of it
     Only its power. [Page 194]

Earth like a Swimmer

25

Plunged into the dimmer
     Wave of the night,
Now is uprisen,
An Elysian vision
     Of spray and of light.

30


’Tis the intangible
Delicate frangible
     Secret of mist,
Breathing may banish it,
Thought may evanish it,—

35

     Ponder and whist!

Passionless purity,
Calmness in surety
     Dwells everywhere,
A winnowed whiteness,

40

A lunar lightness
     Glows in the air.

But in the heart of it
Every least part of it
     Blooms with the charm,

45

Star-shape and frondage
Broken from bondage
     Forged into form.

Crystals encrusted,
Diamonds dusted

50

     Line everything,
Tiny the stencillings
Are as the pencillings
     On a moth’s wing. [Page 195]

And O, what a wonder!

55

No farther asunder
     Than atoms are laid,
The arches and angles
Of star-froth and spangles
     Cast their own shade.

60


Out from the chalices,
The pigmy palaces
     Where the tint hides,
Opal and sapphire
Half-pearl and half-fire

65

     The colour slides;

Till the frail miracle
Rapturous lyrical
     Flushes and glows
With a wraith of florescence

70

That tempers or lessens
     The light of the snows.

Held all aquiver,—
But now with a shiver
     The power of the sun

75

Dissolves the laces
Of the tender mazes,
     All is undone.

But the old Earth brooding,
All wisdom including,

80

     Affirms and assures
That above the material,
Triumphal imperial
     Beauty endures. [Page 196]

 


THE WATER LILY


IN the granite-margined pool,
Hot to its shallow deeps,
The water-lily sleeps
And wakes in light,
While all the garden blossoms shine

5

Rich in the sun,
The throbbing circles tangled round the shrine
Of the Peerless one.


              •          •          •         •          •


Ripples outrun her
As she slides with the air;

10

Like moonstones frail, the waterdrops
Invade her red-rimmed pads,—
Tremble mercurial there;
Ivory rose petals,
Fugitive, wind-blown

15

Shallops of kindred beauty
Attend the starry-pointed wonder,
Lolling so languidly by the lotus leaves.


              •          •          •         •          •


An odour vibrates upward from the flower,
An incense faint

20

Gathers and floats
Above the chalice of the breathing lily,
Firm as the halo of a saint,
Immaculate and chilly;
Or the distilled and secret odour weaves

25

A silver snood, [Page 197]
Binding the temples of the virgin lily
Listlessly leaning by the lotus leaves.


              •          •          •         •          •


Light flock-bells, born of the rains flailing,
Are based on fragile foam and domed with paling

30

Rainbow flicker;
Thicker the water-beetles ply their oars
Freighting between the phantom shores
The little evil thoughts that trouble beauty;
But heedless the haughty lily

35

Buoyed in the lymph-clear shallows
Languorously,—


              •          •          •         •          •


The intense heaven of her cold white
Is troubled with colour;
The shadow cast by light

40

On its own substance lies;
The clear etherealities
Are tremoured with fire;
Conscious and still unconscious of the sun,
The petals swoon amorously;

45

The gold-tipped scepters of desire
Shine in the warm cradle-cup
Of the luxurious pure lily
Trembling in ecstasy by the lotus leaves.


              •          •          •         •          •


Listen, listen, there should be a voice

50

Dulcet as odour and flush;
The flying yellow of the gold finch
Sparkles with notes
Blown on a gold-black flute, [Page 198]
There is no reason why a lily should be mute,

55

Moored languorously by the lotus leaves.


              •          •          •         •          •


A shadow dreams upon the rounded mere,
A gold dust swims upon the crystal,
Maturity broods in water and air;
The starry-pointed wonder

60

From the root tangled lair
Feels ripeness lure her under;
She sinks reluctant from sunlight,
From the chaplet of stars
Spangling the water delicately,

65

Down the dark pool of silence;
The world lost,—
All lost but memory
And the germ of beauty.
O banishment to cloistral water,

70

The pause in the limpid hush,
There to recreate
The form, the odour, the flush.
Then the lyrical impulse,
The stem goes rocketing

75

To kiss spring light,
The pointed bud parts,
The garden lies in ecstasy
Conscious of the starry wonder
That opens—opens—opens—

80

The odour overflows—
Comes the under-flush—
The stately lily lolls again,
Pale water-lily,
Languorously floating by the lotus leaves. [Page 199]

85

 


REVERIE


“Le plaisir délicieux et toujours nouveau d’une occupation inutile.”

Henri de Regnier.


THEN something moves in the unquiet mind,
Something impalpable and hard to bind,
The double of the thought or the thought’s essence;
The annunciation of its subtle presence
Is a slight perfume, or a fragile shading,

5

Hardly perceived ere it is frayed and fading:
Is it the core of all the secret longing
That keeps the memory populous, a thronging
Of ghosts of all the passions, proving deathless
The dead passions?  Is it the shadows faithless

10

Of joys that were to live but once and die
Without a hope of immortality,
That now come treading the old jocund measure,
Mere apparitions, pulseless of all pleasure?
Is it aroma faint from Nature’s chalice,

15

The odour of the aurora borealis
That shifts before the stars a silver fume,
Or peacock-tints on pools of amber gloom
In some fir-forest, all of light denuded,
The aroma faint that keeps the mind deluded

20

With the vain thought that here it lived before
In many incarnations o’er and o’er,
Till all this life seems but a spectral show
Of something real that perished long ago?
Thus the unquiet mind is charmed and caught

25

When comes to Beauty Beauty’s afterthought,
The shadow rainbow, that the rainbow flings
On the torn storm-breast underneath his wings. [Page 200]

 


ANGELUS


A DEEP bell that links the downs
To the drowsy air;
Every loop of sound that swoons,
Finds a circle fair,
Whereon it doth rest and fade;

5

Every stroke that dins is laid
Like a node,
Spinning out the quivering, fine,
Vibrant tendrils of a vine:
How they wreathe and run,

10

Silvern as a filmy light,
Filtered from the sun:
The god of sound is out of sight,
And the bell is like a cloud,
Humming to the outer rim,

15

Low and loud:
Throwing down the tempered lull,
Fragile, beautiful:
Married drones and overtones,
How we fancy them to swim,

20

With the aura of the metals,
Prisoned in the bell,
Fulvous tinted as a shell,
Spreading into shapes that shine,
Dreamy, dim,

25

Deep in amber hyaline. [Page 201]

 


THE MAGIC HOUSE


IN her chamber, whereso’er
     Time shall build the walls of it,
Melodies shall minister,
     Mellow sounds shall flit
Through a dusk of musk and myrrh.

5


Lingering in the spaces vague,
     Like the breath within a flute,
Winds shall move along the stair;
     When she walketh mute
Music meet shall greet her there.

10


Time shall make a truce with Time,
     All the languid dials tell
Irised hours of gossamer,
     Eve perpetual
Shall the night or light defer.

15


From her casement she shall see
     Down a valley wild and dim,
Swart with woods of pine and fir;
     Shall the sunsets swim
Red with untold gold to her.

20


From her terrace she shall see
     Lines of birds like dusky motes
Falling in the heated glare;
     How an eagle floats
In the wan unconscious air. [Page 202]

25


From her turret she shall see
     Vision of a cloudy place,
Like a group of opal flowers
     On the verge of space,
Or a town, or crown of towers.

30


From her garden she shall hear
     Fall the cones between the pines;
She shall seem to hear the sea,
     Or behind the vines
Some small noise, a voice may be.

35


But no thing shall habit there,
     There no human foot shall fall,
No sweet word the silence stir,
     Naught her name shall call,
Nothing come to comfort her.

40


But about the middle night,
     When the dusk is loathéd most,
Ancient thoughts and words long said,
     Like an alien host,
There shall come unsummonéd.

45


With her forehead on her wrist
     She shall lean against the wall
And see all the dream go by;
     In the interval
Time shall turn Eternity.

50


But the agony shall pass—
     Fainting with unuttered prayer,
She shall see the world’s outlines
     And the weary glare
And the bare unvaried pines. [Page 203]

55

 


AVIS


WITH a golden rolling sound
Booming came a bell,
From the aery in the tower
Eagles fell;
So with regal wings

5

Hurled, and gleaming sound and power,
Sprang the fatal spell.

Then a storm of burnished doves
Gleaming from the cote
Flurried by the almonry

10

O’er the moat,—
Fell and soared and fell
With the arc and iris eye
Burning breast and throat.

Avis heard the beaten bell

15

Break the quiet space,
Gathering softly in the room
Round her face;
And the sound of wings
From the deeps of rosy gloom

20

Rustled in the place.

Nothing moved along the wall,
Weltered on the floor;
Only in the purple deep,
Streaming o’er,

25

Came the dream of sound
Silent as the dale of sleep,
Where the dreams are four. [Page 204]

(One of love without a word,
Wan to look upon,

30

One of fear without a cry,
Cowering stone,
And the dower of life,—
Grief without a single sigh,
Pain without a moan.)

35


“Avis—Avis!” cried a voice;
Then the voice was mute.
“Avis!” soft the echo lay
As the lute.
Where she was she fell,

40

Drowsy as mandragora,
Trancèd to the root.

Then she heard her mother’s voice,
Tender as a dove;
Then her lover plain and sigh,

45

“Avis—Love!”
Like the mavis bird
Calling, calling pensively
From the eerie grove.

Then she heard within the vast

50

Closure of the spell,
Rolled and moulded into one
Rounded swell,
All the sounds that ever were
Uttered underneath the sun,

55

Heard in heaven or hell.

In the arras moved the wind,
And the window cloth [Page 205]
Rippled like a serpent barred,
Gray with wrath;

60

In the brazier gold
The wan ghost of a rose charred
Fluttered like a moth.

Tranquil lay her darkened eyes
As the pools that keep

65

Auras dim of fern and frond
Dappled, deep,
Dreamy as the map of Nod;
Moveless was she as a wand
In the wind of sleep.

70


Then the birds began to cry
From the crannied wall,
Piping as a the morning rose
Mystical,
Gray with whistling rain,

75

Silver with the light that flows
In the interval.

Pallid poplars cast a shade,
Twinkling gray and dun,
Where the wind and water wove

80

Into one
All the linnet leaves,
Greening from the mere and grove
In the undern sun.

Night fell with the ferny dusk,

85

Planets paled and grew,
Up, with lilt and clarid turns
Throbbing through, [Page 206]
Rose the robin’s song,
Heart of home and love that burns

90

Beating in the dew.

But she neither moved nor heard,
Trancèd was her breath;
Lip on charmèd lip was laid
(One who saith

95

“Love—Undone” and falls).
Silent was she as a shade
In the dells of death.

 


THE FORGERS


IN the smithy it began:
Let’s make something for a man!
Hear the bellows belch and roar,
Splashing light on roof and floor:
From their nest the feathery sparks

5

Fly like little golden larks:
Hear each forger’s taunting yell,
Tell—tell—tell—tell—
Tell us what we make, my master!
Hear the tenor hammers sound,

10

Ring-a-round, ring-a-round;
Hear the treble hammers sing,
Ding-a-ring, ding-a-ring;
Hear the forger’s taunting yell,
Tell—tell—tell—tell!

15

Though the guess be right or wrong
You must wear it all life long!
How it glows as it grows,
Ding-a-ring-a-derry-down,
Into something—Is’t a crown? [Page 207]

20

Hear them half in death with laughter,
Shaking soot from roof and rafter;
Tell—tell—tell—tell—
Ding-a-ring, ding-a-ring,
See them round the royal thing,

25

See it fade to ruby rose,
As it glows and grows,
Guess, they shout, for worse or better:
Not a crown!
Is’t a fetter?

30

Hear them shout demonic mirth:
Here’s a guesser something worth;
Make it solid, round, and fine,
Fashioned on a cunning plan,
For the riddle-reader Man;

35

Ho—ho—ho—ho!
Hear the bellows heave and blow:
Heat dries up their tears of mirth;
Let the marvel come to birth,
Though his guess be right or wrong

40

He must wear it all life long!
Sullen flakes of golden fire
Fawn about the dinning choir,
They’re a dusky pack of thieves
Shaking rubies from their sleeves,

45

Hear them wield their vaunting yell,
Tell—tell—tell—tell!
Forging faster—taunting faster—
Guess, my master—Guess, my master!
Grows the enigmatic thing!

50

Ruddy joyance—Deep disaster?
Ding-a-ring, ding-a-ring,
Ding-a-ring-a-derry-down!
Is’t a fetter—Is’t a crown? [Page 208]

 


THE SEA BY THE WOOD


I DWELL in the sea that is wild and deep,
     But afar in a shadow still,
I can see the trees that gather and sleep
     In the wood upon the hill.

The deeps are green as an emerald’s face,

5

     The caves are crystal calm,
But I wish the sea were a little trace
     Of moisture in God’s palm.

The waves are weary of hiding pearls,
     Are aweary of smothering gold,

10

They would all be air that sweeps and swirls
     In the branches manifold.

They are weary of laving the seaman’s eyes
     With their passion prayer unsaid,
They are weary of sobs and sudden sighs

15

     And movements of the dead.

All the sea is haunted with human lips
     Ashen and sere and gray,
You can hear the sails of the sunken ships
     Stir and shiver and sway,

20


In the weary solitude;
     If mine were the will of God, the main
Should melt away in the rustling wood
     Like a mist that follows the rain.

But I dwell in the sea that is wild and deep

25

     And afar in the shadow still,
I can see the trees that gather and sleep
     In the wood upon the hill. [Page 209]

 


THE WOOD BY THE SEA


I DWELL in the wood that is dark and kind
     But afar off tolls the main,
Afar, far off I hear the wind,
     And the roving of the rain.

The shade is dark as a palmer’s hood,

5

     The air with balm is bland:
But I wish the trees that breathe in the wood
     Were ashes in God’s hand.

The pines are weary of holding nests,
     Are aweary of casting shade;

10

Wearily smoulder the resin crests
     In the pungent gloom of the glade.

Weary are all the birds of sleep,
     The nests are weary of wings,
The whole wood yearns to the swaying deep,

15

     The mother of restful things.

The wood is very old and still,
     So still when the dead cones fall,
Near in the vale or away on the hill,
     You can hear them one and all,

20

And their falling wearies me;
     If mine the will of God,—O, then
The wood should tramp to the sounding sea,
     Like a marching army of men!

But I dwell in the wood that is dark and kind,

25

     Afar off tolls the main;
Afar, far off I hear the wind
     And the roving of the rain. [Page 210]

 


FANTASIA


HERE in Samarcand they offer emeralds,
Pure as frozen drops of sea-water,
Rubies, pale as dew-ponds stained with slaughter,
Where the fairies fought for a king’s daughter
In the elfin upland.

5

Here they sell you jade and chalcedony,
And the matrix of the turquoise,
Spheres of onyx held in eagles’ claws,
But they keep the gems as far asunder
From the dull stones as the lightning from the thunder;

10

They can never come together
On the mats of Turkish leather
In the booths of Samarcand.

Here they sell you balls of nard and honey,
And squat jars of clarid butter,

15

And the cheese from Kurdistan.
When you offer Frankish money,
Then they scowl and curse and mutter,
Deep in Kurdish or Persan
For they want your heart out and my hand

20

In the booths of Samarcand.

They would sell your heart’s blood separate,
In a jar with a gold brim,
With a text of burning hatred
Coiled around the rim;

25

They would sell my hand upon a beam of teak wood,
In the other scale a feather curled;
They would sell your heart upon a silver balance
Weighed against the world. [Page 211]
But your heart could never touch my hand,

30

They could never come together
On the mats of Turkish leather
In the booths of Samarcand.

 


IMPROVISATION ON AN OLD SONG

(The refrain is quoted by Edward Fitzgerald in one of his letters.)


I


GROWING, growing, all the glory going;
Flashing out of fire and light, burning to a husk,
All the world’s a-dying and failing in the dusk—
     Growing, growing, all the glory going.

Rust is on the door-latch, ashes at the root,

5

Dry rot in the ridge-pole, canker in the fruit;
     Growing, growing, all the glory going.

Plot, ye subtle statesmen,—a trace of melted wax;
Bind, ye haughty prelates,—a thread of ravelled flax;
     Growing, growing, all the glory going.

10

March, ye mighty captains,—an eddy in the dust;
Rave, ye furious lovers,—a stain of crimson rust;
     Growing, growing, all the glory going.

Pictures, poems, music—their essential soul,
Idle as dry roses in a silver bowl;

15

     Growing, growing, all the glory going.

London is a hearsay, Paris but a myth,
Rome a wand of sweet-flag withered to the pith;
     Growing, growing, all the glory going. [Page 212]

Palsy shakes the planets, frost has chilled the sun,

20

In a crushing silence the All is dead and done.
     Growing, growing, all the glory going.


II


Going, going, all the glory growing,
See it stir and flutter; that is singing, hark!
Singing in the caverns of the primal dark.

25

     Going, going, all the glory growing.

What is in the making, what immortal plan
Draws to its unfolding?  ’Tis the Soul of man.
     Going, going, all the glory growing.

See it mount and hover, singing as it goes,

30

Battling with the darkness, nourished by its woes;
     Going, going, all the glory growing.

The bale-fires of midnight glaring in its eyes,
Past the phantom shadows see it rush and rise;
     Going, going, all the glory growing.

35

The supernal morning on its dewy wings,
Soaring and scorning the lust of earthly things;
     Going, going, all the glory growing.

The beatific noontide on its eager breast
Springing and singing to its halcyon rest;

40

     Going, going, all the glory growing.

In its starry vesture not a vestige of the sod,
Winging still and singing to the heart of God.
     Going, going, all the glory growing. [Page 213]

 


ADAGIO


GRAVE maid, surrounded by the austere air
Of this delaying spring, what gentle grief,
What hovering, mystical melancholy
Hath covered thee with translucent shadow?
The glaucous silver buds upon the tree,

5

And the light burst of blossom in the bush
Are the new year’s evangel: soon the birch
Will breathe in heaven with her myriad leaves,
And hide the birds’ nests from the tuliped lawn;
But thou, with look askance and dreaming eyes,

10

Brooding on something subtly sad and sweet,
Art passive, and the world may have her way,
Hide the moraine of immemorial days
With bines and blossoms, so thine unvaried hour
Be not perplexèd with the change of growth.

15

Within the sombre circle of the hills,
Thy girlish eyes have seen the winter’s close,
And what may lie beyond, where the sun falls,
When the vale fills with rose, and the first star
Looks liquidly, thy quiet heart knows not.

20

The permanence of beauty haunts thy dreams,
And only as a land beyond desire,
Where the fixed glow may stain the vivid flower,
Where youth may lose his wings but keep his joy,
Does that far slope in the reluctant light

25

Lure thee beyond the barrier of the hills.
And often in the morning of the heart,
When memories are like crocus-buds in spring,
Thou hast up-builded in thy crystal soul
Immutable forms of things loved once and lost, [Page 214]

30

Or loved and never gained.
                  Now while the wind
From the reflowering bush gushes with perfume,
Thou hast a vision of a precinct fair,
Daled in the lustrous hills, where the mossed dial

35

Holds the slow shadow narrowed to a line;
Where a parterre of tulips hoards the light,
Changeless and pure in cups of tranquil gold;
Where bee-hives gray against the poplar shade,
Peopled with bees, hum in perpetual drone;

40

In a pavilion centred in the close,
Four viols build the perfect cube of sound;
A path beside the rosy barberry hedge,
Leads to the cool of water under spray,
Leads to the fountain-echoing ivied wall;

45

Pedestaled there, flecked with the linden shadows,
A guardian statue carved in purest stone.
Love and Mnemosyne; Mnemosyne
Mothering the Truant to an all-cherishing breast,
The wells of lore deepening her eyes, would speak—

50

But Love hath laid his hand upon her lips.

 


PRAYER AND ANSWER


IS there no balm for grief?
     Lord give me help—I perish in my fears:—
Yea as a fountain sovereign for relief
     I give thee tears.

Tears! nay Lord there are so deep

5

     Griefs that no tears can ease;—
Yea child, thy fold is in my breast, there sleep
     And find release. [Page 215]

 


A MASQUE


A SCULPTURED head beside a stony road
Across a moor, low stars and shattered light
Played on the face of beauty like a god
But pitiless; it seemed to hold the might
Of Aeons; even destiny seemed dead

5

           In that cold fateful head.

Then one by one across the stony moor
Came figures clad like masquers for a fete,
Symbols of life they seemed, both gay and dour,
All quick with life and all importunate,

10

To follow where the flinty pathway led
           And speak with that cold head.

First two fair women, clad in sombre guise,
Communed together who should speak their word,
Then ventured up the younger with pure eyes

15

But faltered, as if she feared her memory erred,
And glanced behind to flee, but turned instead,
           “There is no hope,” she said.

And now came one whose lips were grey as stone,
Whose open eyes with agony were packed,

20

His flesh seemed loosened to the very bone,
Shaken like vapour from a cataract,
He drifted against the absolute stern head,
           “There is no hope!” he said.

In motley garb came one as if a-maying,

25

Playing a melody on a silver flute
And dancing; first he ceased his liquid playing,
Then his dancing, and stood bedazzled and mute, [Page 216]
And when he spoke his face was filled with dread,
           “There is no hope,” he said.

30


A youth clad in a sable cloak came next,
A book he held whereon his eyes were cast,
His brow was fearless but his eyes perplexed,
He hardly saw the statue, as he passed
He glanced up from the book wherein he read,

35

           “There is no hope!” he said.

Then stood a figure clad in yellow flames,
Loaded with brutal spoils of fortunate strife,
Shrouded in veils that covered deeper shames,
And clothes unwound from the loathsome things of life,

40

She stood within the odour that she shed,
           “There is no hope,” she said.

Then rushed one running far beyond her breath
Hasty as flame, a hunted, witless thing,
And furtive as a wild hare on the heath,

45

She darted up distrait and whispering,
Four hurried words she muttered, ere she fled,
           “There is no hope!” she said.

All hot from life they came with this worn tale,
Did they believe its pathos would atone,

50

Or did they hope their spirits would prevail
To draw a comment from the sphinx in stone?
Not one could charm the inexorable head,
           Moveless and cold as lead.

Last rustled up a wingéd lad with wells

55

Of bubbling laughter in his irised eyes,
His face was quick with mountain-lights and dells
Of honeyed dimples rapid with surprise; [Page 217]
He threw his rosy arms around the head,
           “Is there no hope?” he said.

60


Then the grim statue smiled, and all the wild
Sky broke and light rushed through in sudden floods
Glorious!—and where the head was pedestalled
Where osier-wands and fringes of frail woods,
With shallow water painted with the cool

65

Reflected flag-flowers, musing by the pool. [Page 218]

 


THE WOLF


WHOO—WHOO—
     The rain in the hollow
     The wan grey sleet will follow,
     The shaggy moor
     Will lie at the door,

5

     Heavy with mould,
     Dead with cold,
          Whoo—whoo;—yu-loô—yu-loô.

Whoo—whoo—
     The wind in the willow,

10

     The snow heaped up for a pillow,
     The shell of ice,
     Will crush in a trice,
     An iron mould,
     To have and to hold,

15

          Whoo—whoo;—yu-loô—yu-loô.

Whoo—whoo—
     The frost in the furrow,
     Heat takes long to burrow,
     The fire on the heart [Page 218]

20

     Shakes its mirth
     At one of God’s poor,
     Outside the door,
          Whoo—whoo;—yu-loô—yu-loô.

Whoo—whoo—

25

     Weary and worry him,
     Gnaw him, tug him, and carry him;
     Dig him a pit,
     Shallow and fit,
     In the colder cold

30

     It will hold or unfold,
          Whoo—whoo;—yu-loô—yu-loô.

Whoo—whoo—
     The steam from the thatches,
     The casement tawny in patches;

35

     Look not yet,
     You might never forget
     The ghost of breath,
     Or the leper Death,
          Whoo—whoo;—yu-loô—yu-loô.

40

 


PORTRAIT OF MRS. CLARENCE GAGNON


BEAUTY is ambushed in the coils of her
Gold hair—honey from the silver comb
Drips, and the clustered under-tone is warm
As beech leaves in November—the light slides there
Like minnows in a pool,—slender and slow.

5

A glow is ever in her tangled eyes, [Page 219]
Surprise is settling in them, never to be caught;
Thought lies there lucent but unsolvable,
Her curvèd mouth is tremulous yet still,
Her will holds it in check; were it to sleep

10

One moment, that white guardian will of hers,
Words would brim over in a wild betrayal,
Fall sweet and tell the secret of her charm,
Harm would befall the world, Beauty would fly
Into the shy recesses of the wood—

15

Be seen no more of mortals, be a myth
Remembered by a few who might recall
A nerveless gesture, a frail colour, a faint stress,
Some vestige of a vanished loveliness.


Ste. Petronille,                               
July 25th, 1919.                               

 


WILLOW-PIPES


SO in the shadow by the nimble flood
He made her whistles of the willow wood,
Flutes of one note with mellow slender tone;
(A robin piping in the dusk alone).
Lively the pleasure was the wand to bruise,

5

And notch the light rod for its lyric use,
Until the stem gave up its tender sheath,
And showed the white and glistening wood beneath.
And when the ground was covered with light chips,
Grey leaves and green, and twigs and tender slips,

10

They placed the well-made whistles in a row
And left them for the careless wind to blow. [Page 220]

 


IN THE HOUSE OF DREAMS


I


THE lady Lillian knelt upon the sward,
     Between the arbour and the almond leaves;
     Beyond, the barley gathered into sheaves;
A blade of gladiolus, like a sword,
Flamed fierce against the gold; and down toward

5

     The limpid west, a pallid poplar wove
     A spell of shadow; through the meadow drove
A deep unbroken brook without a ford.

A fountain flung and poised a golden ball;
     On the soft grass a frosted serpent lay,

10

With oval spots of opal over all;
     Upon the basin’s edge within the spray,
Lulled by some craft of laughter in the fall,
     An ancient crow dreamed hours and hours away.


II


The lady watched the serpent and the crow

15

     For days, then came a little naked lad,
     And smote the serpent with a spear he had;
Then stooped and caught the coil, and straining slow,
Took the lithe weight upon his shoulder, so,
     And tugged, but could not move the ponderous thing,

20

     Then flushing red with rage, his spear did fling,
And cut the gladiolus at one blow.

Then back he swung his flaming weapon high,
     And smote the snake and called a magic name;
Then the whole garden vanished utterly,

25

     And through a mist the lightning went and came,
And flooded all the caverns of the sky,
     A rosy gulf of unimprisoned flame. [Page 221]

 


WHEN SPRING GOES BY


THE winds that on the uplands softly lie,
Grow keener where the ice is lingering still,
Where the first robin on the sheltered hill
Pipes blithely to the tune, “When Spring goes by!”
Hear him again, “Spring! Spring!” he seems to cry,

5

Haunting the fall of the flute-throated rill,
That keeps a gentle, constant, silver thrill,
While he is restless in his ecstasy.

Ah! the soft budding of the virginal woods,
Of the frail fruit trees by the vanishing lakes:

10

There’s the new moon where the clear sunset floods,
A trace of dew upon the rose leaf sky;
And hark! what rapture the glad robin wakes—
“When Spring goes by; Spring! Spring! When
          Spring goes by.”

15

 


THE LEAF


THIS silver-edged geranium leaf
Is one sign of a bitter grief
Whose symbols are a myriad more;
They cluster round a carven stone
Where she who sleeps is never alone

5

For two hearts at the core,

Bound with her heart make one of three,
A trinity in unity,
One sentiment heart that grieves;
And myriad dark-leaved memories keep

10

Vigil above the triune sleep,—
Edged all with silver are the leaves. [Page 222]

 


FOR REMEMBRANCE


IT would be sweet to think when we are old
     Of all the pleasant days that came to pass,
     That here we took the berries from the grass,
There charmed the bees with pans, and smoke unrolled,
And spread the melon nets when nights were cold,

5

     Or pulled the blood-root in the underbrush,
     And marked the ringing of the tawny thrush,
While all the west was broken burning gold.

And so I bind with rhymes these memories;
     As girls press pansies in the poet’s leaves

10

And find them afterwards with sweet surprise;
     Or treasure petals mingled with perfume,
Loosing them in the days when April grieves,—
     A subtle summer in the rainy room.

 


DREAM VOYAGEURS


TO ports of balm through isles of musk
The gentle airs are leading us;
To curtained calm and tents of dusk,
The wood-wild things unheeding us
Will share their hoards of hardihood,

5

Cool dew and roots of fern for food,
Frail berries full of the sun’s blood.

To planets bland with dales of dream
A tranquil life is leading us,
We shall land from the languid stream,

10

The musing shades, unheeding us,
Will share their dues of angelhood,
Thoughts that are tranced with mystic food,
Still broodings tinct with a seraph’s blood. [Page 223]

 


THE FIRST SNOW


I


THE field pools gathered into frosted lace;
     An icy glitter lined the iron ruts,
     And bound the circle of the musk-rat huts;
A junco flashed about a sunny space
Where rose stems made a golden amber grace;

5

     Between the dusky alders’ woven ranks,
     A stream thought yet about his summer banks,
And made an August music in the place.

Along the horizon’s faded shrunken lines,
     Veiling the gloomy borders of the night,

10

          Hung the great snow clouds washed with pallid gold;
And stealing from his covert in the pines,
     The wind, encouraged to a stinging flight,
          Dropped in the hollow conquered by the cold.


II


Then a light cloud rose up for hardihood,

15

     Trailing a veil of snow that whirled and broke,
     Blown softly like a shroud of steam or smoke,
Sallied across a knoll where maples stood,
Charged over broken country for a rood,
     Then seeing the night withdrew his force and fled,

20

     Leaving the ground with snow-flakes thinly spread,
And traces of the skirmish in the wood.

The stars sprang out and flashed serenely near,
     The solid frost came down with might and main,
     It set the rivers under bolt and bar;

25

Bang! went the starting eaves beneath the strain,
     And e’er Orion saw the morning-star
The winter was the master of the year. [Page 224]

 


TO THE HEROIC SOUL


I


NURTURE thyself, O Soul, from the clear spring
That wells beneath the secret inner shine;
Commune with its deep murmur,—’tis divine;
Be faithful to the ebb and flow that bring
The outer tide of Spirit to trouble and swing

5

The inlet of thy being.  Learn to know
These powers, and life with all its venom and show
Shall have no force to dazzle thee or sting:

And when Grief comes thou shalt have suffered more
Than all the deepest woes of all the world;

10

Joy, dancing in, shall find thee nourished with mirth;
Wisdom shall find her Master at thy door;
And Love shall find thee crowned with love empearled;
And death shall touch thee not but a new birth.


II


Be strong, O warring soul!  For very sooth

15

Kings are but wraiths, republics fade like rain,
Peoples are reaped and garnered as the grain,
And that alone prevails which is the truth:
Be strong when all the days of life bear ruth
And fury, and are hot with toil and strain:

20

Hold thy large faith and quell thy mighty pain:
Dream the great dream that buoys thine age with youth.

Thou art an eagle mewed in a sea-stopped cave:
He, poised in darkness with victorious wings,
Keeps night between the granite and the sea,

25

Until the tide has drawn the warder-wave:
Then from the portal where the ripple rings,
He bursts into the boundless morning,—free! [Page 225]

 


RETROSPECT


THIS is the mockery of the moving years;
Youth’s colour dies, the fervid morning glow
Is gone from off the foreland; slow, slow,
Even slower than the fount of human tears
To empty, the consuming shadow nears

5

That Time is casting on the worldly show
Of pomp and glory.  But falter not;—below
That thought is based a deeper thought that cheers.

Glean thou thy past; that will alone inure
To catch thy heart up from a dark distress;

10

It were enough to find one deed mature,
Deep-rooted, mighty ’mid the toil and press;
To save one memory of the sweet and pure,
From out life’s failure and its bitterness.

 


ANGEL


COME to me when grief is over,
     When the tired eyes,
Seek thy cloudy wings to cover
     Close their burning skies.

Come to me when tears have dwindled

5

     Into drops of dew,
When the sighs like sobs re-kindled
     Are but deep and few.

Hold me like a crooning mother,
     Heal me of the smart;

10

All mine anguish let me smother
     In thy brooding heart. [Page 226]

 


FROST MAGIC


I


NOW, in the moonrise, from a wintry sky,
The frost has come to charm with elfin might
This quiet room; to draw with symbols bright
Faces and forms in fairest charactery
Upon the casement; all the thoughts that lie

5

Deep hidden in my heart’s core he would tell,
How the red shoots of fancy strike and swell,
How they are watered, what soil nourished by.

With eerie power he piles his atomies,
Incrusted gems, star-glances overborne

10

With lids of sleep pulled from the moth’s bright eyes,
And forests of frail ferns, blanched and forlorn,
Where Oberon of unimagined size
Might in the silver silence wind his horn.


II


With these alone he draws in magic lines,

15

Faces that people dreams, and chiefly one
Happy and brilliant as the northern sun,
And by its daring side there gleams and shines
One of God’s children with the laughing signs
Of dimples, and glad accents, and sweet cries,

20

That angels are and heaven’s memories:
The wizard thus my soul’s estate divines;
All it holds dear he sets alone apart,
Etches the past in likeness of dim groves
Silvered in quiet rime and with rare art,

25

In crystal spoils and fairy treasure-troves,
He draws the picture of the happy heart,
By those who love it most, whom most it loves. [Page 227]

 


THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY


I READ once in an ancient and proud book
           How beauty fadeth,
How stale will Helen or Leucippe grow
           When custom jadeth,
“When the black ox has trodden on her toe,”

5

           Beauty will alter,
And love that lives on beauty, so it said,
           Will fade and falter.

Then, while your mistress wrinkles and grows sour,
           O sage sardonic,

10

What charm preserves your virile strength and show,
           What potent tonic?
An elephant has trodden on your toe,
           Your look grows bleary,
Leucippe has quick eyes, her love of you

15

           Is dull and weary.

I laid his book beside a Chinese rose-jar,
           (Old Robert Burton),
Lifted the dragon-guarded lid and— lo!
           Faint and uncertain,

20

Frail rose-ghosts of rose-gardens all in blow
           Haunted the room,
The spangled dew, the shell-tints and the moonlight
           Lived in the fume,

And still shall linger in the leaves until

25

           The jar shall perish.
So the true lovers in their memories stow [Page 228]
           The things they cherish,
And loose them in the tender after-glow
           Of life’s long day,

30

Till memory dies, and the world with all its passion
           Passes away.

 

 


 

A NEST OF HEPATICAS


O PASSION of the coming of the spring!
When the light love has captured everything,
When all the winter of the year’s dry prose
Is rhymed to rapture, rhythmed to the rose,
When all the heart’s desire is fondly set

5

Just to remember never to forget;
O season of the mild and misty eves,
With the deep sky seen through the growing leaves!
Where in the crocus west the evening star
Grows distant from the moon, and sinks afar

10

As she grows lovelier; when the willow wands
Burst their brown buds in gray and gleaming bands
And score the surface of the amber pool
With little motes of silver beautiful;
When the hepatica, with her flushing crest,

15

Blooms in the leaves above the secret nest,
Where all her sisters, fairer far than she,
Lie curled in a frail silken galaxy:
Like a young girl’s first, timid thought of love
That blossoms in her liquid eyes, above

20

A nest of hopes so secret and so fair
She hardly knows herself that they are there. [Page 229]

 


WATKWENIES


VENGEANCE was once her nation’s lore and law:
When the tired sentry stooped above the rill,
Her long knife flashed, and hissed, and drank its fill;
Dimly below her dripping wrist she saw,
One wild hand, pale as death and weak as straw,

5

Clutch at the ripple in the pool; while shrill
Sprang through the dreaming hamlet on the hill,
The war-cry of the triumphant Iroquois.

Now clothed with many an ancient flap and fold,
And wrinkled like an apple kept till May,

10

She weighs the interest-money in her palm,
And, when the Agent calls her valiant name,
Hears, like the war-whoops of her perished day,
The lads playing snow-snake in the stinging cold.

 


THE ONONDAGA MADONNA


SHE stands full-throated and with careless pose,
This woman of a weird and waning race,
The tragic savage lurking in her face,
Where all her pagan passion burns and glows;
Her blood is mingled with her ancient foes,

5

And thrills with war and wildness in her veins;
Her rebel lips are dabbled with the stains
Of feuds and forays and her father’s woes.

And closer in the shawl about her breast,
The latest promise of her nation’s doom,

10

Paler than she her baby clings and lies,
The primal warrior gleaming from his eyes;
He sulks, and burdened with his infant gloom,
He draws his heavy brows and will not rest. [Page 230]

 


THE HAPPY FATALIST


WE plough the field,
And harrow the clod,
And hurl the seed.
Trust for trust:
The germ yields,

5

The wheat brairds,
We gather the sheaf,
Deed for deed:
The stubble moulds,
The chaff is cast,

10

Dust for dust:
The man is worn,
His days are bound,
But his labour returns,
The child learns

15

Round for round:
The god is astir,
Firm and free,
Weaving his plan,
Swelling the tree,

20

Bracing the man:
All is for good,
Sweet or acerb,
Laughter or pain,
Freedom or curb:

25

Follow your bent,
Cry life is joy,
Cry life is woe,
The god is content, [Page 231]
Impartial in power,

30

Tranquil—and lo!
Like the kernels in quern,
Each in turn,
Comes to his hour,
Nor fast nor slow:

35

It is well: even so.

 


WORDS AFTER MUSIC


WHERE go all the melodies fair,
They that flow and fade in air?
Was their beauty all foredone?
         (Ah, no—no!)
Pulse and cadence truth did tell,

5

Vowed to music’s magic spell,
Passionate and ineffable.

Where do all the roses go,
They that die before the snow?
Was their beauty all forsworn?

10

         (Ah, no—no!)
Flush and odor vowed aright,
When they promised rare delight,
Perennial and exquisite.

Fragile flowers and melodies

15

Claim a dual paradise,
Beauty is not feof to death;
         (An, no—no!)
Beauty lives in essence free,
In the inner heart we see

20

Beauty’s immortality.

 


THE VIOLET PRESSED IN A COPY OF SHAKESPEARE


HERE in the inmost of the master’s heart
This violet crisp with early dew,
Has come to leave her beauty and to part
With all her vivid hue.

And while in hollow glades and dells of musk,

5

Her fellows will reflower in bands,
Clasping the deeps of shade and emerald dusk,
With sweet inviolate hands,

She will lie here, a ghost of their delight,
Their lucent stems all ashen gray,

10

Their purples fallen into pulvil white,
Dull as the bluebird’s alula.

But here where human passions pulse in power,
She will transcend our Shakespeare’s art,
From Desdemona to a smothered flower,

15

Will leap the tragic heart.

And memory will recall in keener mood
The precinct fair where passion grew,
The stars within the water in the wood,
The moonlit grove, the odorous dew.

20


The voice that throbbed along the summer dark
Will float and pause and thrill,
In lonely cadence silvern as the lark,
To fail below the hill. [Page 233]

The reader will grow weary of the play,

25

Finding his heart half understood,
And with the young moon in the early dusk will stray
Beside the starry water in the wood.

 


THE CUP


HERE is pleasure; drink it down.
Here is sorrow; drain it dry.
Tilt the goblet, don’t ask why.
Here is madness; down it goes.
Here’s a dagger and a kiss,

5

Don’t ask what the reason is.
Drink your liquor, no one knows;
Drink it bravely like a lord,
Do not roll a coward eye,
Pain and pleasure is one sword

10

Hacking out your destiny;
Do not say, “It is not just.”
That word won’t apply to life;
You must drink because you must;
Tilt the goblet, cease the strife.

15

Here at last is something good,
Just to warm your flagging blood.
Don’t take breath—
At the bottom of the cup
Here is death:

20

Drink it up. [Page 234]

 


A LITTLE WHILE


HER life was touched with early frost,
About the April of her day,
Her hold on earth was lightly lost,
And like a leaf she went away.

Her soul was chartered for great deeds,

5

For gentle war unwonted here:
Her spirit sought her clearer needs,
An Empyrean atmosphere.

At hush of eve we hear her still
Say with her clear, her perfect smile,

10

And with her silver-throated thrill:
“A little while—a little while.”

 


IN SNOW-TIME


I HAVE seen things that charmed the heart to rest:
Faint moonlight on the towers of ancient towns,
Flattering the soul to dream of old renowns;
The first clear silver on the mountain crest
Where the lone eagle by his chilly nest

5

Called the lone soul to brood serenely free;
Still pools of sunlight shimmering in the sea,
Calm after storm, wherein the storm seemed blest.

But here a peace deeper than peace is furled,
Enshrined and chaliced from the changeful hour;

10

The snow is still, yet lives in its own light.
Here is the peace which brooded day and night,
Before the heart of man with its wild power
Had ever spurned or trampled the great world. [Page 235]

 


AT SEA


THERE are emerald pools in the sea,
     And wing-like flashes of light;
The sea is bound with the heavens
     In a large delight.

Night comes out of the east

5

     And rushes down on the sun;
The emerald pools and the light pools
     Are darkened and done.

Our boat dips and cleaves onward,
     Careless of night or of light,

10

Following the line of her compass
     By her engines’ might.

Through the desert of air and of water;
     Like the lonely soul of man,
Following her fate to the ending,

15

     Unaware of the hidden plan.

Sure only of battle and longing,
     Of the pain and the quest,
And beyond in the darkness somewhere
     Sure of her rest.

20

 


THE APPARITION


GENTLE angel with your mantle,
     All of tender green,
I was yearning for a vision
     Of the life unseen. [Page 236]

When you hovered in the sunset,

5

     Just as rain was done;
Where the dropping from the poplars
     Seemed like rain begun.

There you gathered forming slowly,
     Rounding into view:

10

All your vesture glowed like verdure
     When the sap is new.

Then you mutely gave your warning
     And I felt the stress
Of its passion and its presage

15

     And its utterness.

There you swayed one tranquil moment,
     Mystically fair,
Then you were not of the sunset,
     Were not in the air.

20

 


THE GHOST’S STORY


ALL my life long I hear the step
     Of some one I would know,
Break softly in upon my days
     And lightly come and go.

A foot so brisk I said must bear

5

     A heart that’s clean and clear;
If that companion blithe would come,
     I should be happy here.

But though I waited long and well,
     He never came at all,

10

I grew aweary of the void,
     Even of the light foot-fall. [Page 237]

From loneliness to loneliness
     I felt my spirit grope—
At last I knew the uttermost,

15

     The loneliness of hope.

And just upon the border land,
     Where flesh and spirit part,
I knew the secret foot-fall was
     The beating of my heart.

20

 


THE END OF THE DAY


I HEAR the bells at eventide
     Peal slowly one by one,
Near and far off they break and glide,
        Across the stream float faintly beautiful
        The antiphonal bells of Hull;

5

The day is done, done, done,
        The day is done.

The dew has gathered in the flowers,
     Like tears from some unconscious deep:
The swallows whirl around the towers,

10

        The light runs out beyond the long cloud bars,
        And leaves the single stars;
’Tis time for sleep, sleep, sleep,
       ’Tis time for sleep.

The hermit thrush begins again,—

15

     Timorous eremite—
That song of risen tears and pain,
        As if the one he loved was far away:
        ‘Alas! another day—’
‘And now Good Night, Good Night,’

20

        ‘Good night.’ [Page 238]

 


OFF RIVIERE DU LOUP


O SHIP incoming from the sea
    With all your cloudy tower of sail,
Dashing the water to the lee,
    And leaning grandly to the gale;

The sunset pageant in the west

5

    Has filled your canvas curves with rose,
And jewelled every toppling crest
    That crashes into silver snows!

You know the joy of coming home,
    After long leagues to France or Spain;

10

You feel the clear Canadian foam
    And the gulf water heave again.

Between these sombre purple hills
    That cool the sunset’s molten bars,
You will go on as the wind wills,

15

    Beneath the river’s roof of stars.

You will toss onward toward the lights
    That spangle over the lonely pier,
By hamlets glimmering on the heights,
    By level islands black and clear.

20


You will go on beyond the tide,
    Through brimming plains of olive sedge,
Through paler shallows light and wide,
    The rapids piled along the ledge.

At evening off some reedy bay

25

    You will swing slowly on your chain,
And catch the scent of dewy hay,
    Soft blowing from the pleasant plain. [Page 239]

 


ABOVE ST. IRÉNÉE


I RESTED on the breezy height,
    In cooler shade and clearer air,
       Beneath a maple tree;
           Below, the mighty river took
Its sparkling shade and sheeny light

5

       Down to the sombre sea,
           And clustered by the leaping brook,
       The roofs of white St. Irénée.

The sapphire hills on either hand
    Broke down upon the silver tide,

10

       The river ran in streams,
           In streams of mingled azure-grey,
With here a broken purple band,
       And whorls of drab, and beams
           Of shattered silver light astray,

15

       Where far away the south shore gleams.

I walked a mile along the height
    Between the flowers upon the road,
       Asters and golden-rod;
           And in the garden pinks and stocks,

20

And gaudy poppies shaking light,
       And daisies blooming near the sod,
           And lowly pansies set in flocks,
       With purple monkshood overawed.

And there I saw a little child

25

    Between the tossing golden-rod,
       Coming along to me;
           She was a tender little thing,
So fragile-sweet, so Mary-mild, [Page 240]
       I thought her name Marie;

30

           No other name methought could cling
       To any one so fair as she.

And when we came at last to meet,
    I spoke a simple word to her,
        ‘Where are you going, Marie?’

35

           She answered and she did not smile,
But oh! her voice,—her voice so sweet,
        ‘Down to St. Irénée,’
           And so passed on to walk her mile,
       And left the lonely road to me.

40


And as the night came on apace,
    With stars above the darkened hills,
       I heard perpetually,
           Chiming along the falling hours,
On the deep dusk that mellow phrase,

45

        ‘Down to St. Irénée:’
           It seemed as if the stars and flowers
       Should all go there with me.

 


THE IDEAL


LET your soul grow a thing apart,
    Untroubled by the restless day,
Sublimed by some unconscious art,
    Controlled by some divine delay.

For life is greater than they think,

5

    Who fret along its shallow bars:
Swing out the boom to float or sink
    And front the ocean and the stars. [Page 241]

 


THE HILL PATH


ARE the little breezes blind,
They that push me as they pass?
Do they search the tangled grass
For some path they want to find?
Take my fingers, little wind;

10

You are all alone, and I
Am alone too.  I will guide,
You will follow; let us go
By a pathway that I know,
Leading down the steep hillside,

15

Past the little sharp-lipped pools,
Shrunken with the summer sun,
Where the sparrows come to drink;
And we’ll scare the little birds,
Coming on them unawares;

20

And the daisies every one
We will startle on the brink
Of a doze.
(Gently, gently, little wind),
Very soon a wood we’ll see,

25

There my lover waits for me.
(Go more gently, little wind,
You should follow soft, behind.)
You will hear my lover say
How he loves me night and day,

30

But his words you must not tell
To the other little winds,
For they all might come to hear,
And might rustle through the wood,
And disturb the solitude. [Page 242]

35

(Blow more softly, little wind,
You are tossing all my hair,
Go more gently, have a care;
If you lead you can’t be blind,
So,—good-bye:)

40

There he goes: I see his feet
On the grass;
Now the little pools are blurred
As they pass;
And he must be very fleet,

45

For I see the bushes stirred
Near the wood.  I hope he’ll tell,
If he isn’t out of breath,
That he met me on the hill.
But I hope he will not say

50

That he kissed me for good-bye
Just before he flew away.

 


MEMORY


I SEE a schooner in the bay
    Cutting the current into foam;
One day she flies and then one day
    Comes like a swallow veering home.

I hear a water miles away

5

    Go sobbing down the wooded glen;
One day it lulls and then one day
    Comes sobbing on the wind again.

Remembrance goes but will not stay;
    That cry of unpermitted pain

10

One day departs and then one day
    Comes sobbing to my heart again. [Page 243]

 


AT THE GILL-NETS


TUG at the net,
Haul at the net,
Strip off the quivering fish;
Hid in the mist
The winds whist,

5

Is like my heart’s wish.

What is your wish,
Your heart’s wish?
Is it for home on the hills?
Strip off the fish,

10

The silver fish,
Caught by their rosy gills.

How can I know,
I love you so,
Each little thought I get

15

Is held so,
It dies you know,
Caught in your heart’s net.

Tug at your net,
Your heart’s net,

20

Strip off my silver fancies;
Keep them in rhyme,
For a dull time,
Fragile as frost pansies.

 


AN IMPROMPTU


THE stars are in the ebon sky,
    Burning, gold, alone;
The wind roars over the rolling earth,
    Like water over a stone. [Page 244]

We are like things in a river-bed

5

    The stream runs over,
They see the iris, and arrowhead,
    Anemone, and clover.

But they cannot touch the shining things,
    For all their strife,

10

For the strong river swirls and swings—
    And that is much like life.

For life is a plunging and heavy stream,
    And there’s something bright above;
But the ills of breathing only seem,

15

    When we know the light is love.

The stars are in the ebon sky,
    Burning, gold, alone;
The wind roars over the rolling earth,
    Like water over a stone.

20

 


AT LES EBOULEMENTS


THE bay is set with ashy sails,
    With purple shades that fade and flee,
And curling by in silver wales,
    The tide is straining from the sea.

The grassy points are slowly drowned,

5

    The water laps and over-rolls,
The wicker pêche; with shallow sound
    A light wave labours on the shoals.

The crows are feeding in the foam,
    They rise in crowds tumultuously,

10

‘Come home,’ they cry, ‘come home, come home,
    And leave the marshes to the sea.’ [Page 245]

 


MADONNA WITH TWO ANGELS


UNDER the sky without a stain
The long, ripe, rippling of the grain;
Light, broadcast from the golden oats
Over the blackberry fences floats.
Madonna sits in a cedar chair

5

Tranquillized by the warm, still air;
One of the angels asleep on her knee
Under the shade of an apple tree.
The other angel holds a doll,
Covered warm in a tiny shawl;

10

The toy is supposed to be fast asleep
As the sister angel: in dimples deep
The grave, sweet charm on the baby face
Repeats the look of maturer grace
That hovers about Madonna’s eyes,

15

One of the heavenly mysteries
From far ethereal latitudes
Where neither doubt nor trouble intrudes.
Ponder here in the orchard nest
On the truth of life made manifest:

20

The struggle and effort was all to prove
That the best of the world is home and love.

 


A VISION


THE tenebrous sky
Was founded on lightning,
And there came marching
To a funeral,
A multitude so millioned

5

That number was unthinkable;
There were massed together [Page 246]
Kings pierced with their sceptres,
Tyrants shod with the points of swords,
And priests each with a live coal

10

In the palm of his hand,
Learned men
With book-yokes on their necks,
Merchants with gold eyelids;
Each one tortured with his symbol,

15

And an innumerable host
Without sign or distinction;
Each bore a tuft of grass
In his fingers;
The grass was in seed,

20

And as they walked,
The seed fell where it listed.
There was no sound
As the host marched
To the funeral;

25

But what was buried
Was far in the Past,
And the host poured up
From the Future.

 


IDLE TO GRIEVE


IDLE to grieve when the stars are clear above me,
When the bright waters bubble in the spring,
Idle to grieve when there are storms to prove me
And birds that seek me out to come and sing.

Idle to grieve, the light is on the highway,

5

There are the mountain meadows to achieve,
Beyond in the pass the airy heights are my way,
Idle to grieve, glad heart, idle to grieve. [Page 247]

 


A ROAD SONG


UP heart, away heart,
Never heed the weather.
Leave the lowland reaches
Where the grain’s in seed.
Take the powerful wind in face,

5

All in highest feather,
Lift your burden with a shout,
Fit for every need.
Front the mountains, cross the passes,
Pioneer the sheer crevasses,

10

Where the glaciers breed,
Where the imminent avalanches,
Tremble with their air-held motions,
Where below the balsam branches
Start the rills in the erosions,

15

Follow where they lead;
Where the sunlight ebbs in oceans,
Cast away your load!
Life is not the goal,
It is the road.

20

 


BY THE SHORE


RIPPLES that run so gladly
           To the sands of the broken shore,
I wish that I knew your meaning
           And I would ask no more.

My heart is bitter with sorrow

5

           For the years that are long gone,
There is no consolation
           That I may dwell upon. [Page 248]

’Tis idle to sway and glitter
           And make a sound of mirth,

10

The human heart is hungry
           For comfort on the earth.

Is all that you can tell me,
           As you waver and sparkle and glance,
That after the scourge of tempest

15

           You still can laugh and dance?

If this is the depth of your meaning,
           Rave on, or murmur or cease,
My heart is riven with sorrow
           And cannot be at peace.

20

 


THE ENIGMA


I SAID, before the dawning came,
    The day shall be so fair,
Wonder shall thrill me and the flame
    Of spirit touch my hair.

Although the day was perfect light,

5

    Wonder withheld his lyre;
Expectance was a-wing till night,
    Then died with my desire.

But on a casual day of rain,
    Wonder came chanting by;

10

I threw my heart wide to the strain,—
    It passed—’twas but a sigh. [Page 249]

 


BELLS


SLOW bells at dawn—
What mean ye by your tolling?
Bells in the growing light,
Knolling afar,
Loitering in leisured sequence,

5

Where the ringing seraphim
Shake you out of heaven,
From the morning star.


        •        •        •        •        •


Echoes are in my soul,—
Consonances and broken melodies,—

10

Survivals frayed and remembrances
Vanished and irretrievable.


        •        •        •        •        •


What know ye of life,
Or of perished hours or years?
Ye tones that are born in air,

15

And throb in air and die,
Leaving no traces anywhere,
Save tremors in the quickened pool of tears
Within the windless deeps of memory?

 




DULSE GATHERING


WE watched the tide with the current fight,
    And the shingle clash before
And the wild floods of fugitive light
    Play on the pale south-shore.

We gathered dulse that the sea had cast,

5

    In many a glistering heap;
We bore it back to the farm on the hill
    Where the corn and the flax-fields sleep. [Page 250]

There in the loft of an upland barn,
    A league from its tossing bed,

10

It gathered salt and shrivelled with age
    To a parchment purple and red.

But still it holds the soul of the tide—
    This rag of wizened dulse;
The keen free scent and the tang of the salt

15

    Brings the sea into the pulse.

And memories lone on the heart are hurled,
    Like the waves on the shingle flung,
When the sun was young, and young was the world,
    When we were young.

20

 




THE LOWER ST. LAWRENCE


A GLAMOUR on the phantom shore
Of golden pallid green,
Gray purple in the flats before,
The river streams between.

From hazy hamlets, one by one,

5

Beyond the island bars,
The casements in the setting sun
Flash back in violet stars.

A brig is straining out for sea,
To Norway or to France she goes,

10

And all her happy flags are free,
Her sails are flushed with rose. [Page 251]

 


THE HOUSE OF THE BROKEN-HEARTED


IT is dark to the outward seeming,
    Wherever its walls may rise,
Where the meadows are adreaming,
    Under the open skies,
    Where at ebb the great world lies,

5

        Dim as a sea uncharted,
    Round the house of sorrow,
        The house of the broken-hearted.

It is dark in the midst of the city,
    Where the world flows deep and strong,

10

Where the coldest thing is pity,
    Where the heart wears out ere long,
    Where the plough-share of wrath and of wrong
        Trenches a ragged furrow,
    Round the house of the broken-hearted,

15

        The house of sorrow.

But while the world goes unheeding
    The tenant that holds the lease,
Or fancies him grieving and pleading
    For the thing which it calls peace,

20

    There has come what shall never cease
        Till there shall come no morrow
    To the house of the broken-hearted
        The house of sorrow.

There is peace no pleasure can jeopard,

25

    It is so sure and deep,
And there, in the guise of a shepherd,
    God doth him keep, [Page 252]
    He leads His belovéd sleep,
        To fold when the day is departed,

30

    In the house of sorrow
        The house of the broken-hearted.

 


ON THE MOUNTAIN


I


A STORM from the mountain is coming,
With lightning and thunder and rain,
The wind is sweeping and humming
In the butternut trees on the plain.

The cloud is ebon that follows,

5

The fore-cloud is livid and pale,
There’s the flash and the tossing of swallows
In the turn of the eddying gale.

The rain is awake on the mountain,
’Tis lashing the forest afar

10

With fall of a shattering fountain
And the tramp and tumult of war,

With the drums of the detoning thunder,
And the clang in the bugles of wind,
With the gonfalons tortured asunder

15

By the rush of the host from behind.

The plains are leaping with shadows,
The highlands go out like a blot,
And over the eddying meadows
The rain is hurtled like shot.

20


The darkness is glooming and brightening,
There is alternate chaos and form,
With the parry and thrust of the lightning
In the turbulent heart of the storm. [Page 253]


II


Now the storm is over,

25

And the greener plain
Seems to glow and hover
Through the thinning rain.

Now the wind is gusty
In the maple tops,

30

Striking out the lusty
Storms of gleaming drops.

Now the goldfinch whistles
In his spattered vest,
Balanced on the thistles,

35

Bolder than the best.

And the hermit thrushes
On the sparkling hills,
Link the dripping hushes
With their silver thrills.

40

 


IN MAY


THE clouds that veil the early day
Are very near and soft and fine,
The heaven peeps between the gray,
A luminous and pearly line.

The breeze is up, now soft, now full,

5

And moulds the vapor light as fleece,
It trembles, then, with drip and lull,
The rain drifts gently through the trees. [Page 254]

It trails into a silver blur,
And hangs about the cherry tops

10

That sprinkle, with the wind astir,
In little sudden whirls of drops.

The apple orchards, banked with bloom,
Are drenched and dripping with the wet,
And on the breeze their deep perfume

15

Grows and fades by and lingers yet.

In some green covert far remote
The oven-bird is never still,
And, golden-throat to golden-throat,
The orioles warble on the hill.

20


Now over all the gem-like woods
The delicate mist is blown again,
And after dripping interludes
Lets down the lulling silver rain.

 


NIGHT


THE night is old, and all the world
    Is wearied out with strife;
A long gray mist lies heavy and wan
    Above the house of life.

Four stars burn up and are unquelled

5

    By the low, shrunken moon;
Her spirit draws her down and down—
    She shall be buried soon.

There is a sound that is no sound,
    Yet fine it falls and clear,

10

The whisper of the spinning earth
    To the tranced atmosphere. [Page 255]

An odour lives where once was air,
    A strange, unearthly scent,
From the burning of the four great stars

15

    Within the firmament.

The universe, deathless and old,
    Breathes, yet is void of breath:
As still as death that seems to move
    And yet is still as death.

20

 


NIGHT AND THE PINES


HERE in the pine shade is the nest of night,
    Lined deep with shadows, odorous and dim,
And here he stays his sweeping flight,
    Here where the strongest wind is lulled for him,
        He lingers brooding until dawn,

5

        While all the trembling stars move on and on.

Under the cliff there drops a lonely fall,
    Deep and half heard its thunder lifts and booms;
Afar the loons with eerie call
    Haunt all the bays, and breaking through the glooms

10

        Upfloats that cry of light despair,
        As if a demon laughed upon the air.

A raven croaks from out his ebon sleep,
    When a brown cone falls near him through the dark;